Happy New Year:
• to all taking the time to read this magazine!
• to all who come to the cafe regularly, have never been to the cafe or those who intend to join us one day.
• to all those involved in making sure the cafe opens every day.
• to the volunteers who are priceless. They give their time week after week so that the cafe remains the hub of our community. A space where you’re always welcome, young or slightly older, anytime!
Just before Christmas this happened...
Reunited after all these years. Doreen and Pat haven’t seen each other for 60 plus years! Can you believe it!? Pat recognised Doreen straight away. They used to go to school together in Whitley. Pat recently started to visit us here a couple of weeks ago and she is a really lovely lady. She’s 82 and walks here from Three Mile Cross. Bless her!
So much sharing of life happens here in the cafe. Every day, there are stories to be heard and shared. There are moments that touch your heart, that are priceless. I want to thank each and every one of you for being here, not just for me but for each other. It’s amazing how the magic of this place unfolds before your very eyes. Just before Christmas, a gentleman called Dave came in. He was a little bit emotional but stood at the counter and shared his story. During our conversation, I learned that he was a mechanic of sorts. Then, as if by magic, Pete appeared. Pete is another fairly new member of the cafe regulars and is also into vehicles and engines of the vintage variety. I introduced them both. They sat together for quite some time and exchanged phone numbers. Dave joined us on Boxing Day for dinner. It wasn’t easy for him, especially when he was sat on a table with at least one Margaret. Margaret was his wife’s name. Dave had been caring for her for the last four years and she was buried just a week or two before. He was teary and we talked about it for a few minutes. I offered to move him if it was too much, but he decided to see it through, saying “you’ve got to face these things sometimes” and he did. Dave has since told me that he’s also been to visit Pete at his workshop/yard. How wonderful is that!? I suppose I wanted to share a feelgood story of hope for us all in the New Year. Things can feel the worst they have ever felt but fantastically good at the same time. Heaven and Hell running parallel in our lives. With the support and kindness of others, we manage somehow to get through. So, thank you both, for being the people who you are and sharing your lives’ journey with us at Caf’ Active and with each other.
God, I love this job - getting to witness these simple miracles of care, compassion, generosity, kindness and love. If we open our eyes, they are happening all the time and, if we open our hearts, we can be part of performing them! Would now be a good time to ask for volunteers?
I must thank Pauline, our Wednesday afternoon volunteer, who is taking some time off to sort out health issues. Thank you Pauline, for facing your fears and doing it anyway. I know it wasn’t easy for you in the beginning but you did it and you have been such a gentle, gracious, calming presence on what can only be described as chaotic Wednesdays. Please don’t be a stranger and visit us for a jacket potato when you can! June and John have been in to see us several times. Both are looking good and recovering well. It’s always lovely to see volunteers who no longer volunteer but still like to pop in and stay connected.
There are so many stories I’d like to share but am conscious of space. So I’ll move on, to Boxing Day. What a day… I have one negative for the day but the rest was 99.9% positive. The beef was generously provided by Julie, along with so much more. It was carved magnificently by Graham and Angus, cooked by me and tasted by Dot. I thought it was tough but it wasn’t too bad when being carved. It’s tricky keeping it warm. If anybody would like to cook the beef next year, that would be amazing, or maybe I should just practice cooking enough beef for 50 throughout the year!
I don’t know where to begin really. All year, I save up the tips that are given and put them towards the boxing day meal. There are groups who meet here who know that’s what I do and give so generously. Thank you all, including the volunteers who may not realise that’s what happens! Lots of things get donated and you all know who you are but I’ll try and name you all, except the ones who asked me not to! So, Julie, thanks for all you gave. Helen, thank you for the lovely plastic-free beautiful gift bags. Did you do mints too? Somebody did – thanks to that person if it wasn’t Helen! Mike and Julie Gough, thanks for the wine and Mike for doing the shopping all year, putting up with my late lists, my confusing lists, my ‘could you go twice on the same day’ lists. You’re a star Mike, thank you. x x x Thanks to the Dexter Elisha family for adding some sparkle to the day! Emma Marshall, from Marshalls pet shop in Burghfield, who drove up from Poole to take me shopping and then peeled a sack of potatoes before heading home again. An amazing, generous woman! Thank you to the Eaves family for being super supportive always and offering such a warm welcome. Erin, thanks for helping to get the food orders together. Thank you to the Harrington family, plus one, for working as an incredible team. I felt the warmth of love and fun between you all as you laughed together as you served, washed-up, chatted to people and generally did everything you could to make the day go so well. You lot are amazing. Thanks also go to the three complete strangers who called or texted me offering help. To Lorraine, Susan and Jasmi, thanks for all you did, including spending time with and listening to as many of the guests you could. Thank you Jasmi for going on the lunch delivery round with Karen. Thanks to Dawn and Simon for coming to see us and collecting Fiona and Stella’s lunch. Fiona is out of hospital now, after quite a long stay, and is on the road to recovery. I’m sure, like me, you wish her well and look forward to seeing her soon. Thanks to Suzanne for coming back this year to help again. Bless you. I’d like to also thank you for the blue bin bags; for offering numerous solutions as to how I could cook a dinner for so many with a domestic oven; for being a fantastic help, in and out of the kitchen; and for putting up with me. x x I’d like to thank Karen (cafe) and David for coming in and setting the tables and making them look so beautiful. Thanks to Margaret Finch, once again, for bringing such lovely arrangements for the tables and our Tuesday Lesley for helping her! Thanks to Joan and Charlie for helping Karen with the tables and tablecloths and everything else. I’d like to thank Graham and all the Puddephat/Gurling family for answering my facebook requests for Sherry and Baileys and for an electric carving knife! I’d like to thank Matt and Lawrie for playing so wonderfully and for Cynthia for requesting Abba - oh and for starting the dancing!! Or was that me and Charlie? I’d like to thank the PCC for allowing me to follow my heart in welcoming people in - not just on Boxing Day but every day. Thank you to Linda Gale for the Christmas cake - it all went! I did take a small bit with stilton in memory of Doug! Thanks Stephen, for bringing Bunny over. I’d like to thank Barbara Stanley who crossed the borders and joined us twice! Trifle finishing, Debbie dodging and dish washing. Such support from so many… Thank you.
Enjoy the photos. Let’s keep the generosity of giving with an open heart and mind going in 2020. It might spread and join up with others doing just the same and, before we know it, there will be a blanket of love spread all through the world! See you soon for a drink and a chat.
Debbie and the cafe volunteers