Forty Years Ago, aged 18, Ed Lunnon goes to Oklahoma

Exchange1975

(c) 2015 Edward C Lunnon

8 years 4 months ill …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Advantage Ed

“So it was, that on 15 January 1975, at the age of 18, I flew (for the first time!) out of Cape Town via Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, New York City and Chicago to Oklahoma City and on to Sulphur, Oklahoma.

That’s how I ended up in Oklahoma, Jonathan! That’s how I got to graduate from Sulphur High School. That’s how I got to become an honorary citizen of Oklahoma, conferred on me in Oklahoma City by governor David Boren on 1 December 1975… ”

Read my blog:

Oklahoma is OK and so much more!

by clicking here: https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/oklahoma-is-ok-and-so-much-more/

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BrainStorms – Ed Lunnon’s Blog: Raising awareness about corticalbasal degeneration, a rare neurological illness

(c) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 2 months ill …
Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

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Monday 24 November 2014

My Blackberry reminded me this morning that today would have been Sherri Danley’s 57th birthday. She was at school with me in Sulphur, Oklahoma and died from cancer a few years ago.

My iPad reminded me that Debbie Whitley was not feeling too well. I like to call Debbie my sister-in-law because she is married to Blake Whitley, the eldest of my five American Whitley “brothers” that I lived with at the Lake of the Arbuckles in Sulphur. Debbie is bravely fighting cancer.

My desktop reminded me that my blogsite surpassed the 185 000 hit readership last night. I am humbled. It was five years ago that I started blogging – in October 2009 – three years into my journey with CBD. I started blogging to stay in touch with my family and friends, and my initial emails and the new Facebook had become inadequate for my needs. My first two blogs were “Three Years On” … and “Oklahoma is OK and so much more”. Little did I know then what I had started!

My laptop reminded me that Kevin and Carol Whitley had just done a twelve hour trip from the east coast of the USA to Oklahoma to attend a family wedding and a family reunion. I was sad that I was not there and I must admit that I shed a few tears (something that I do more and more of these days) Yes, everybody hurts, sometimes! I needed to message Blake and Kevin and Colin and nowadays its instantaneous on Facebook – you just wait for that little green dot to light up.

Lance du Plessis, my AlgoaFM radio host, reminded me that Freddie Mercury passed away 21 years ago today. He played “Live Forever”!

My brain (albeit diseased) reminded me that that was not possible! But, my mind did take me back forty years to Oklahoma 1975. I remembered the Whitleys, the Colberts, the Griffens, the Seips, Sulpur and Sulphur High School and all my Sulphur school friends. I remembered the USA, the Star spangled banner, the day i was made an honorary citizen of Oklahoma. I remembered the four times that I have returned to the States, and the journey that I have undertaken since then.

I am reminded by that most sophisticated device of all – my brain – that I am so blessed. I am reminded that despite the physical disabilities that i am beginning to encounter, and the negativity that I am having to fight, it’s been a good life for it all!

I am reminded that it’s my past that will carry me into my future and it’s my present that I have to learn to manage.

I am reminded … of hiking and skiing in Aspen Colorado, and John Denver and Poems, Prayers and Promises!

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time, all the things I’ve done and how it’s been.
And I can’t help believing in my own mind, I know I’m gonna hate to see it end.
I’ve seen a lot of sunshine, slept out in the rain, spent a night or two all on my own.
I’ve known my lady’s pleasures, had myself some friends, spent a time or two in my own home.

I have to say it now, it’s been good life all in all, it’s really fine to have a chance to hang around.
and lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
while all my friends and my old lady sit and pass a pipe around.
And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in.
How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care.
How long it’s been since yesterday, what about tomorrow
and what about our dreams and all the memories we share?

Days they pass so quickly now, the nights are seldom long.
Time around me whispers when it’s cold.
The changes somehow frightens me, still I have to smile. It turns me on to think of growing old.
For though my life’s been good to me there’s still so much to do.
So many things my mind has never known.
I’d like to raise a family, I’d like to sail away and dance across the mountains on the moon.

I have to say it now, it’s been good life all in all, it’s really fine to have a chance to hang around.
and lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
while all my friends and my old lady sit and pass a pipe around.
And talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in.
How sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care.
How long it’s been since yesterday, what about tomorrow
and what about our dreams and all the memories we share?”

Deon Dorrington RIP

7 years 6 months on …

DEUCE

deon

The power and impact of modern communications is awesome. Technology such as TV, Cell Phones, WWW, Internet and all the various applications that go with it, impact on our daily lives and the manner in which we live, work and play.

In the past few weeks, we have seen all these things in action, whether we watch sport, Oscar Channel, the disappearing Boeing or the “War” in Crimea! The World is truly in our livingroom!

I have been amazed, for one thing, at the number of different occupations that have been made available by modern-day technology to the youngsters of today.

I am amazed at how we can stay in touch with our friends and relatives and how easily we can find long-lost friends, relatives and acquaintances.

The Global Village in which we live also means that we can be found, monitored and discussed, There is no place to hide!

And so it was that I received a message on my website this week from Gerald Dorrington, a school friend from The Strand. I have not seen him since we left school forty years ago.

It is with great sadness that I read the following message:

‘Hi Ed An incident yesterday made me google Deon Dorrington and found him mentioned in your blog. Quickly scanning your blog, I realised that our paths may have split at Helshoogte koshuis 1978 when it was my final year there. Deon passed away yesterday of a suspected heart attack at Montagu hospital. He had long been poorly, having already lost both legs to diabetes. Yesterday he was hospitalised with bladder/kidney problems, taken for X-Rays and then we got the news. He is survived by 1 son, Eugene (26), and ex-wife of about 20 years ago.I sure intend to read more of your blog. All the best. Gerald Dorrington (brother of Deon)

I shall always be grateful to Deon, because it was he who made it possible for me to travel to the United States as an exchange student at the tender age of 18. He played an organ for a weekend and together with my class mates (and Mr Danie Schoeman, my Afrikaans teacher) they raised the funds to pay for my trip which has impacted my life since then.

Read the story on one of my very first blogs, OKlahoma is OK,  by clicking here:

https://edlunnon.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/oklahoma-is-ok-and-so-much-more/

DORRINGTON DEON RIP

Our dearest brother and uncle passed away suddenly on 18 March. You will be deeply missed by Dad (Gene), Edwin, Gerald & family. —- Rest in Peace —-Funeral service Mon 24th March 11h00 Montagu DR Church

 

 

 

 

Rotary International Exchange Programme

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Thursday 7 November 2013: 7 years 2 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

This morning I woke up to read the following on face book, posted by my American host brother Kevin Whitley:

Day 6.  I am thankful for Bill’s boys…my brothers…4 by birth, and another courtesy of the Rotary Student Exchange program.  Brothers who have loved me enough to be honest when I need to hear hard truths, and loved me enough to help carry me when I’m not sure I can walk any further.  Brothers who love to swap memories, and share that “look” when we all know what is coming next.  Brothers who still have my back, and trust me to have theirs.  Brothers by blood, and brothers in Christ.  I love you guys…Blake Whitley, Colin, Brett, Pat Whitley, and Ed Lunnon.

I am humbled, honoured, grateful, thankful, appreciative and indebted to Rotary International and to the people of Sulphur, Oklahoma – especially the Whitleys – for the memories in my adventure novel : The Volumes of Life!

Here’s where it all started:

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Reunion Time

©2013 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 20 May 2013: 6 years 8 months on …

Game ED

I haven’t written for a while – not because I’m too ill but because I just haven’t had time! I’m flying high and living life in the fast lane!

Today is Sean’s 21st birthday! Another milestone in his and our lives and one which 6 years and eight months ago I never thought I would see.

Yes, today we celebrate 21 happy years of Sean’s life. As I said to him this morning, he has brightened all our lives and the world is richer for having him in it. I pray that God may spare us all to share many more happy years together. He teaches me so much about life and how one should handle its challenges and its ups and downs.

We are so proud of you, Son, and wish you a challenging, rewarding and trouble-free journey. May the Jeeps and Journeys of life carry you safely through to the other side and may the 4×4’s, the diff locks, the GPS’s and all the other gadgets help you when the going gets tough:  Life is never an easy ride – not for anyone and not for sissy’s!

Legally, you are now out there on your own, but remember, we are always here to provide you with a safe harbour and love and affection. There will always be food on the table – hopefully, we will see you more often than that!

Congratulations and God speed!

Sean will have a party later when his friends are in town – tonight we will celebrate in Lunnon family tradition by going out for supper at The Coachman!

It’s also the end of a very busy two weeks for me!

I will try and highlight the last two weeks and pencil in the flesh later:

Mon 6 May – returned from Baviaanskloof

Tue 7 May – MND Meeting: Laughter, the best medicine; braai at VP Tennis Club with Gordon Kotze and friends

Wed 8 May – AlgoaFM, Selley Concert, start of Grey Reunion at Old Grey Club

Thu 9 May – Old Greys’ Dinner

Fri 10 May – School Assembly, Lunch in the long room with class of 1988, Parade, Supper at Arkenstone (Class of ’88), flight to Cape Town, 40 year Birthday Celebrations at Helshoogte Stellenbosch until 3h00

Sat 11 May – Breakfast at Res, wine-tasting at Blaauwklippen, Dinner at In the Vine, Somerset West

Sun 12 May – Mothers Day: Church and brunch at res, to Durbanville (Wusts)

Mon 13 May – Tygerberg Hospital, Lunch at Tygervalley with Louis VII and Corne, Paarl (Engelbrechts – Rodeberg Lodge), Taal Monument, Paarl Rock

Tue 14 May – Coastal tour to Hermanus, lunch with Noel and Spekkies, back to Paarl via Villiersdorp and Franschoek

Wed 15 May – Via Stellenbosch to Strand (Van Jaarsvelds), Beach, Ridgways

Thu 16 May – Cape Town, Aunty Pat, Vergelegen (Deon Adriaanse)

Fri 17 May – Lunch Stellenbosch (Katz), Uncle Eric, Karen H and Sonja VR, Koshuis rugby,

Sat 18 May – Aunty Doreen and Uncle Peter (Gordons Bay), Lourensford (Andre, Willem, Gretel), Supper (Irene and Pieter)

Sun 19 May – return to Port Elizabeth (plane delayed with flat wheel)

Mon 20 May – Sean’s birthday and recovery time

MONDAY 20 MAY – DEVESTATING TORNADO IN MOORE, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

State song and Anthem

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,

And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet

When the wind comes right behind the rain.

Oklahoma, ev’ry night my honey lamb and I

Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin’ lazy circles in the sky.

We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand!

And when we say – Yeeow] A-yip-i-o-ee ay!

We’re only sayin’ You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma – O.K.

Places, People and Pipe Dreams

(c) 2011 E.C. Lunnon

Saturday 12 November 2011: 5 years 3 months on … Deuce

I have written before that Home is where the Heart is  –  about a number of places where I am privileged to have lived or visited.

But now I have a broken heart. It is split and  parts remain in those wonderful places. 

Stellenbosch is where I was born and educated.

There is the greater Cape Town Metropole including the City of  Cape Town itself and the Hottentots-Holland basin: The Strand, Somerset West and Gordons Bay where I was raised and spent my formative years.  

Then there is the United States of America, in general, and Oklahoma and Sulphur in particular. I lived and went to school there too.

There is the Eastern Cape where I have lived for the past twenty-seven years.

 

I have visited Londres no less than seven times. 

It is the city of my surname, my forefathers and my dreams: the New Jerusalem to which I look forward. But, if that destination is anything better than London, it can only be called Heaven!

And from the noise and bustle and coloured tracks of the tube trains of London, there is the quietness and simplicity and dust tracks of The Karoo.

 

With each of these places comes the so many people who are my friends and acquaintances.  

 The simpler one’s life, the less one has to give up and the less one has to say goodbye to.

The more privilege, the more pleasure, the more places, the more people, the more presents, the more pets, the more paper, the more photos, the more possessions, …

Yes, the more parts of your heart …
 
And the more parts lead to the more partings and the more pain.

 

It is hard to start saying goodbye to a hundred places, a thousand people and a million pipe-dreams. 

It’s a Small Small World

© E.C. Lunnon 2011

Friday 4 November 2011: 5 years 2 months on … Advantage CBD

Dear Kay, Lee, Jerry and Kathy

Thirty six years ago, in 1975, I completed grade 12 at Sulphur High School, in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

During that year, I lived with four families:  first, with Bill and Nadine Whitley (and their five sons) out at the Lake of the Arbuckles and then in town with Judge Dixie and Ruby Colbert (and Shelley and Mark), yourselves, the Rev Lee and Mrs Kay Griffin (and Jerry and Kathy) and finally with the Seips (and Robert and Becky). I had an additional four mothers and fathers and many more brothers and sisters! (I recall the most difficult thing for me was to actually call my host parents “Mom” and “Dad”!)

Despite the years, I remember many things of my stay with you: celebrating my 19th birthday with a special cake in your kitchen, the Methodist Church (I believe it’s changed its venue now), Kathy’s mice,  Jerry’s bedroom (!) and, of course, our ten-day hiking trip up and around the Maroon Bells and Snowmass Lake in Aspen, Colorado. To this day, a watercolour that Lee painted for me of the Bells and the Lake hangs in our entrance hall in Port Elizabeth (to where I moved from Cape Town in 1984).

 

(Note the signature and date in the left hand corner – I was hoping, Lee, that you had made it famous as a painter by now and that my original is now worth a few million dollars!)

Upon returning to South Africa, I commenced my studies at the University of Stellenbosch. In those years, we relied solely on “snail mail” in order to communicate.  It took some three weeks for a letter to reach Oklahoma from South Africa and the same amount of time for a response to get back here – almost two months for a “round trip”!

Needless to say, despite all our good intentions, the letters dried up rapidly, later became just an annual Christmas card, then SILENCE and then DISAPPEARANCE.

Thanks largely to Kevin Whitley and his insistence in not allowing me “to get away” I remained in contact (to a greater or lesser degree) with the Whitley clan.

I was, therefore, privileged to return to the US on a further four occasions. As a South African (and an honorary citizen of the Great State of Oklahoma) I have most probably seen more of the USA than most Americans, having had the pleasure of visiting most of the 48 contiguous States, as well as Canada and Mexico. 

In 1988, a friend and I toured the country from “sea to shining sea” (and I also returned to Sulphur for a while); in 1999, I visited Orlando and Atlanta on a business trip (and saw the Whitleys in Atlanta); in September/October 2001, my family and I vacationed in Atlanta and with the Whitleys in Missouri; and in March 2007, just after I became ill, I returned for Bill’s (surprise) 80th birthday party. Unfortunately, he became ill at that time and passed away shortly thereafter.

All this time, I have asked about the whereabouts of my other families. I understand that the Seips have moved back to Pennsylvania. However, I have had no contact with them since 1988. I also saw Ruby Colbert at that time (my understanding is that both Judge Dixie and Ruby have now passed away.) I occasionally get some news via Facebook of the doings of the Colbert’s.

 The Griffins remained the “lost tribe”.

But, all that changed last week, thanks to the wonders of that modern-day invention of the Internet and all the various social networking sites, especially Facebook.

Last Monday, in the early hours of the morning, I heard my Blackberry beep. It was a FB message from Esti Stewart, the editor of the St Francis Bay newsletter The Village News.

In my dozy state and without my specs, I read that my mother wanted me to contact her. Well, bearing in mind that my mom passed away in 1986, it came as a bit of a shock!

On getting my specs and re-reading the message, I read the following:

“Hi ED, Kay Griffen requested via my website for you to contact her, she says she is the mom of the family you stayed with.

I was extremely excited about the contact and immediately responded with a brief note to you, Kay, realizing that it was in the middle of the night in Oklahoma City.

I thanked Esti for passing on the message and she informed me that Kay had found me by reading one of my blogs on OKLAHOMA that I had written and that she had republished in her newsletter.

By noon here, I had received another note directly from Kay:

“Hi, ED. I am Kay Griffin, the mother of the Griffin family with whom you stayed in Sulphur, Oklahoma when you were an exchange student. I would love to visit with you!”

Could I have forgotten the Griffins? No!

But I had forgotten (initially) that ‘visit’ in America simply means to have a chat and not that it was a face-to-face encounter as a visit is here in Africa.  For the moment, I was excited that the Griffins were right here in South Africa!

 However, the World Wide Web would have to do. And, in the next few hours, the beeps continued on the Blackberry, the laptop, the desktop and the I-Pad. The Internet was abuzz with requests from the Griffins to “be my friend” and to “poke me”!

The Lunnons and the Griffins had found each other! 

In 1975, it was impossible to phone directly from Sulphur, Oklahoma to Cape Town, South Africa. Now, we can sms, text, WhatsApp, BBM, Skype, Facebook, call, see and hear each other.

So much has changed in thirty six years. And especially so in our family and personal lives. I guess we have all experienced the ups and downs of life, and have met with the challenge of turning the downs into ups.

I will not bore you with all my details, but I invite you to read my blogsite www.edlunnon.wordpress.com or to visit my website www.edlunnon.co.za. You will find most of my life story stuck away in the blogs that I have written over the last two years.

It has been a truly amazing experience that, after so much time, we have been able to connect once again. I will always be grateful to Rotary and to you and all the other OKIES for the year that was afforded me in Sulphur, Oklahoma, USA. It was a life-changing experience for me and something that has defined my life journey ever since.

Despite modern technology, I hope you will understand that, as a result of my illness, it has become difficult for me to keep up individual correspondence with so many good friends around the world. Hence, the writing of my blogs to keep everyone updated.

I do hope that we can continue to keep in touch through my website and Facebook. You will also be pleased to know that hopefully soon, my blogs will be published in book form.

Thanks so much for writing, for your words of encouragement and for putting me up (and I guess, for putting up with me!) in 1975.

I sincerely hope that, if you ever come to Africa and pass this way, I will be able to reciprocate your kindness. 

Remember, “Yea’re Welcome” and “Y’all come back now!

Lots of love and good wishes

 ED

 

 

 

 

2B or not 2B – that is the question!

Wednesday 20 July 2011: 4 years 10 months on … Advantage CBD

Today, 42 years ago in 1969, I was twelve years old and in Std 5 (now Grade 7) at Hendrik Louw Primary School in The Strand. It was the day that Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon.

“One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind!” were his first and THE first human words uttered from the moon.

In 1975, on 15 July, I was fortunate to be at the Johnson Mission Control Centre in Houston,Texas– from where all American space missions are controlled and monitored – when the joint Apollo/Soyuz mission took place. It was the last Apollo mission until the shuttle programme started in 1981.

On 30 November 2000, I visited the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida from where Apollo 11 and all other American space missions are launched. There, I witnessed the awesome launching of space shuttle, Endeavour, from Launch Pad 39B.

Since the tests flights of Enterprise aboard a jumbo jet in 1977, from the launch of Columbia in 1982 to the final flight of Atlantis, there have been 355 astronauts on 135 space shuttle missions.

Challenger and Columbia were lost (the former on blast-off and the latter on re-entry), while the other three shuttles that went into space – Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis – will be preserved in museums.

Last Friday afternoon, friend Eddie Terblanche and I watched the last launch of a shuttle, Atlantis, on CNN whilst enjoying a cold one at the new Zest Urban Cafe in Walmer.

And, as I write, Atlantis is on its way back to earth for the very last time and scheduled to land at Cape Canaveral tomorrow morning at 05h57 (EST) – 11h57 (SAST).

I have been an avid space follower since my early days at Primary school and I shall be glued to the television set yet again tomorrow morning. Now, watching on TV makes it almost like being there.

However, then, in 1969, whilst the rest of the world watched that moon-trip of Apollo 11 intently on TV, we had to be content to listen to the broadcast on radio – on what was known as the “A” (English) programme. We did not have TV in South Africa yet.

That only came seven years later, in 1976, when after returning from the United States, I lived in Helshoogte Residence as a first year student at Stellenbosch University.

I originally shared Room A208 with Glynn Jones from Tulbagh. He was a medical student, later became Dr Jones, married Carol (it was to be the first of many weddings at which I officiated as the MC) and then immigrated to Canada. (I had a phone call from him a while ago from somewhere near the North Pole where he was doing medical visits to an Eskimo settlement!)

Before he emigrated, we socialised and travelled quite a bit (together with Dr Shelley Cohen and others whose names now evade me). We often visited their holiday home on the Breede River at Silver Strand near Robertson, and also did a trip to Windhoek, Etosha Pan and the Fish River Canyon in South West Africa (now Namibia).

In 1977, our second year at Stellenbosch, Glynn and my other medical student friends moved to Hippokrates and Huis Fransie Van Zyl in Tygerberg at the University’s medical school (where I would be diagnosed with CBD thirty years later in 2007).

I remained on the second floor in Helshoogte, but moved to B201 on Section 2B. A few years later, when I became a House Committee member, I moved to A701 on the seventh floor before I ended up in my final year in the Primarius’s “suite” A401/402 on section 4A.

On section 2B we wore t-shirts with a slogan “2B or not 2B” – a parody of Shakespeare‘s famous words!

This past weekend, 2B and Stellenbosch was on my mind as we headed off in pursuit of, what I call, the B’s of our South African Society – the pillars that support our way of life on the southernmost coast of the African continent:

Biltong, Braai, Beer, Brandy, Boeremusiek and Buddies!

On Friday morning, we were on our way to the Castle Lager Biltong Festival in Somerset East.

The slogan for the festival is “KOM HANG SAAM MET ONS”! Like biltong hanging out to dry, we were going to be “hanging out” with our Buddies this weekend.

First, we travelled east from Port Elizabeth along the N2 and then turned north at Nanaga along the N10, past Paterson and over the Olifantshoek Pass.

Just past Kommadagga, we passed the Schneider’s farm (Lynne was at Stellenbosh with me – in Minerva Residence) and at Middleton Manor, we stopped on the banks of the Fish River for lunch with friends Michelle and Colin van Niekerk (whose sons, Carl, Hugh and Angus have been with Sean and Phillip all these years at Grey). 

After a tasty Karoo roast (and a snooze), we moved onto Grant and Sarine Abrahamson on their farm west of Somerset East. I taught Grant in my first year of teaching at Grey and their son Anthony and daughter Abigail are now at Grey and Collegiate.

In those teaching years, I often visited Somerset East:  the Abrahamsons as well as Helena (Kitshoff) Glennie (who had also been at Stellenbosh with me, in Harmonie Residence) and Richard Glennie, who had been at Grey. (I had been MC at their wedding, too, when they got married in my home town of Somerset West!)

The Abrahamsons now run East Cape Safaris and, for supper, we joined them and their American hunter guests from Kansas USA.  With Kansas being the state just north of Oklahoma, I had lots to discuss!

 

On Saturday morning, we all headed for the show grounds in town.  There one could find more than enough of the B’s: biltong at most of the many stalls selling anything and everything from artwork to food (genuine African art – but when turned over displayed the words “Made in China!”), the Boeremusiek (blaring from the stage in the centre of the showground to the many who were seated on their camp chairs (and all the others who were walking around), the Buddies and friends who were also there, and then, of course, the beers and brandy and whatever other booze that was being served in the marquee that dominated the showgrounds. All in all, an affair displaying our truly African culture!

Late afternoon, we decided to head back to the farm for a brief lie-down and rest before we would return for the evening programme.

Well, return we did not – instead we all ended up sitting around the fire in the bouma (another South African “B”) and participating in that greatest of the South African B’s – the traditional Braaivleis!

So, it was with a sense of contentment that we headed back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday. I had left with some apprehension, as I had not travelled for some while and have been finding it more and more difficult to sit. Whilst it was uncomfortable and slightly sore, I proved that I can still do it, and hopefully will still be able to do many more trips.

I always enjoy visiting my Buddies, and together with all the other B’s, we had enjoyed yet another special weekend just “hanging out”. Thank you to all who made it possible!

“2B or not 2B?” – if that is the question, then surely there is only one answer: how truly awesome it is “2B”!