My Sunday Photo – May 14th, 2017.

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About 20 years ago my dad went to the opticians for the first time – a visit that changed his life, forever.

The optician spotted something abnormal and referred him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (or RP). It’s a name given to a group of inherited conditions which all result in a gradual progressive reduction in vision.

He was going blind.

Within weeks he had lost his driving licence (obviously with good reason) and he was also no longer able to work as a forklift truck driver. Since then many of the things he loved (he was a proper jack of all trades, able to turn his hand to anything practical) have became more difficult, if not impossible.

Not once have I ever heard him complain.

His attitude has always been really positive, he just gets on with it as best he can. While some things are a struggle, he is happy to be alive doing what he loves best – spending time with his grandchildren.

Even though his sight has now deteriorated, so much that he often can’t really see what is going on, he loves visiting different places. On Friday we went to Banham Zoo where, among other things, we watched the always entertaining Amazing Animals indoor show. As we went in, I asked Mark to tell a staff member, Steve, that my dad couldn’t see (I did this because the show features audience participation and they seek volunteers but also just in case there was an emergency).

Afterwards we went to see the brilliant outdoor Birds of Prey display, which my mum was especially keen on. Steve was flying a couple of the birds and, as he came into the audience with a beautiful peregrine falcon, he stopped before my dad and explained he was going to gently brush the bird’s feathers against his face so he could feel what they were like.

Even though my dad says he simply enjoys being with us, I always feel a little guilty that he’s normally on the fringe of things (as much as I try and take him places I think he will enjoy too). That wasn’t the case on Friday. How many people ever get that close to a peregrine falcon?


We were all so surprised and touched by the gesture (my dad was thrilled). Thank you to the staff, especially Steve, for making it a day we will all remember for a long time.

My dad gave me permission to share his photo and a bit of his story.

I’ve linked up this special moment with #MySundayPhoto (please click on the camera below to see what other people have posted).

I’ll share some more zoo pics in the week (although approximately 800 of them were of blurred wings). Tomorrow is also my second Behind The Book interview (this time with the fabulous saga writer Susanna Bavin) so please come back and visit again soon.


Three Small Gestures Brighten Our Day.



After writing last week about ONE rude shop assistant, on Saturday we had THREE people who went above and beyond customer service wise.

“What are we going to do today?” Freya asked as soon as she woke up.

“I don’t think we have any plans. Is there anything you would like to do?” I asked her.

“My greatest wish,” she actually said those words. “Is to go and see nan and grandad.”


Well, if it was her greatest wish I could hardly say no. Barely an hour later we were at Norwich Train Station. After buying my train ticket, I had a quick chat with the two people serving, one of whom also had a daughter called Freya. Just as we were leaving, the lady who sold me my ticket said: “Would she like a sticker?”

Freya’s eyes lit up.

She was so proud of her “We went on the train!” sticker.


The train left on time and made its first stop 15 minutes later at Diss. Freya became fascinated with the guard and his whistle. Apparently whistling is an essential lifeskill when you’re three and she’s devastated she can’t do it yet. I keep telling her to try every day and one day it will just happen but, thanks to the guard, she’s discovered there is another way (great!).

“How is he doing that?” She said, amazed.

“He has a whistle in his mouth. It’s an instrument, like the recorder you have at nan and grandad’s, and when you blow it, it whistles.”

Her eyes were huge at this new wonder.

Just as we were pulling away he noticed her looking at him and gave her a beaming smile. She responded by waving and he waved us off, which she loved (she kept waving long after we’d left the station).

We pulled into Ipswich a couple of minutes early and went to catch the first of two buses. As I haven’t lived there for a long time I got a bit confused and got on the wrong one. Luckily the lovely bus driver was incredibly helpful. Not only did he tell me what number I needed to catch next but also made sure I knew exactly where to go to get it.

These are all small gestures. Probably the people involved didn’t even think about us again but it really added a little extra shine to our day.

While none of them are very interesting snippets, I thought as I had recorded one man’s negative behaviour here on the blog, I should also capture the three positives too.

Has something small brightened your day lately?

The Little Things Make A Big Difference.

little things Unsolicited advice, usually offered at The.Worst.Time.Possible, seems to be a fact of life when you have a child but so too, I’ve found anyway, is something else that we perhaps take less notice of… kindness.

I see it in the little things; the way that random people return Freya’s smile or respond to her wave (she thinks she is The Queen) as we are walking along.

And in the bigger little things that take more effort. Yesterday, for example, while we were at the train station waiting for my mum and dad to arrive, an employee noticed Freya and gave her a smile and a wave.

She loves any attention and gave him her best smile in return and I heard him say to his colleague: “I’m going to get her a sticker.” Even though I think they might have being going off on their break.

And he did.

He came back a few minutes later and presented her with a sticker, which made her giggle and smile. She then high fived him, which seemed to make his day.

“They grow up so quickly,” he said, as if perhaps remembering when his own children were little.

It was the first thing she showed to my mum and dad when they arrived and she kept hold of it (but didn’t eat it, which has happened in the past) all day.

Maybe to him it was nothing really, a couple of minutes to make a little girl happy but it made Freya’s day (and mine too, truth be told).

One of my 39 things to do before I’m 40 is to try and comment on every act of kindness. Sometimes it’s just a simple thank you and letting people know whatever they did was appreciated but I also send emails where possible, like yesterday (I also tweeted it).

Often it seems like we live in a pretty grotty world but taking more notice of the little things makes me realise that there are also a lot of good people out there – I just need to pay attention.