Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Double Gosh and a Jolly Good Dollop of Golly!



Dear Mr Gowans,

Thank you for your email.

Although we ship worldwide we only currently offer shipping to selected countries. Unfortunately Angola is a country that we are unable to ship to at present.

Kind regards,

John Pugh

Internet Sales Coordinator
Cheaney Shoes Ltd

Having survived twenty years in Africa I wasn’t about to allow simple idleness to prevent me slipping my feet into a well-made pair of boots.  Having been told to march off at the high port by Cheaney’s, I wasn’t about to waste any more time trying to buy a pair of their boots either, thus ending our thirty seven year relationship. 

As all young officers soon learn, if anyone tells you something is impossible, check with the Regimental Sergeant Major, only on his say so is it really impossible.  Appropriately, I found that the boots I wanted were also made by a man called Alfred Sargent.  He can’t spell his own surname but he does make very good boots.

Given the lethargy of UK suppliers, I was a little dismayed to discover that Alfred Sargent Zug Grain Veldt Boots are about as rare as hen’s teeth.  If Cheaney’s was an attitude endemic among Northamptonshire boot makers, the chances of me finding a supplier sympathetic to the logistic problems of getting a pair to me in Angola were slim.  I wasn’t holding my breath then, when I wrote to Tredders of Castle Ashby, Suppliers of Fine Footwear.  Once again I explained that I lived in Angola and was in urgent need of a pair of decent boots. 

I didn't think it possible to receive a reply shorter even than that of Mr. Pugh at Cheaneys but I did:

No problem Tom,

It is my pleasure.

Will you be paying by credit/debit card? 

Kind Regards

Glen Bogle
Tredders Quality Footwear
Tel: 0845 121 4012

Tredders ofCastle Ashby have their own regular shipping agent with whom they and their clients are very satisfied but Mr. Bogle was nevertheless pleased to obtain a shipping quote from my preferred shipper, DHL Express, and was shocked, he wrote to me, at the price they quoted.  I wasn’t, I had provided him the link to DHL and knew they wanted £172.95.  But, the man who was beginning to test my heterosexuality (I was overcome with an inexplicable urge to have his babies) went on to say he had approached his regular shipper and had asked him to try and get a better quote from DHL, he’d get back to me.  Gosh!  Eight minutes later another email from the soon to be canonized Mr. Bogle popped into my in box.  Express shipping with DHL would be £95.  Double gosh and a jolly good dollop of Golly!

I would have been grateful just to find a supplier willing to sell me the boots and let DHL come and collect them.  Instead I had Saint Glen of Castle Ashby performing miracles for me.  If he bent any further backwards, he’d be picking gravel out of his ears.  Not only was I going to cheat the Chancellor of his twenty pieces of silver, DHL were not going to charge me the leg I needed to usefully employ the pair of boots they were sending me.

Tredders of Castle Ashby’s commitment to customer service is evident, even in their choice of location.  They’re on the Castle Ashby estate no doubt, so that the Marquess of Northampton’s footman doesn’t have too far to walk to collect his master’s new boots, as well as providing an appropriate environment in which other clients can road test their quality footwear. 


My new Alfred Sargent Zug Grain Veldt Boots and a blade appropriate to the boot style
You may have noticed I haven’t yet mentioned the boots now in my possession, instead using up my store of superlatives on Tredders of Castle Ashby.  The thing is, I am not the first expatriate whose desire for old country quality has been thwarted by individuals unwilling to lift even a finger to execute an order in any way unusual, so the discovery of a supplier not only traditional in the quality of its products but also, despite the laziness displayed by other on line outlets, still providing a traditional customer service is something worth banging a drum for.

The lovely Angie, one of three young followers of St Glen of Castle Ashby 
all eager to help you slip into something comfortable.
I have it on good authority they are black belts in Sokushindo

I asked for and paid their invoice and, six days later, I am wearing the boots I wanted, the boots they had much pleasure selling me and I had great pleasure in buying.  There’s no question of Alfred Sargent’s boots not being worth the money.  Like their shoes, they are hand made in Northampton using quality leather to a very high standard.  My boots are constructed using the Veldtschoen method, which is traditional for English country and hiking boots being sturdy, comfortable and waterproof.  The last pair of Veldtschoens I had lasted over thirty years and these Alfred Sargents should do the same.  The boots they replaced I had bought in a hurry and they were the best I could get at the time.  They were cheap (?!) at £145.00 and guaranteed for life. 

Yes, the manufacturer, Doc Martens, guaranteed that if the boots failed in my lifetime they would repair or replace them.  Three years into the rest of my life the sole separated from the uppers.  But the boots giving up the ghost was only the end of a sorry saga.  I quickly found while walking through the bush that every thorny bit of vegetation I stepped on would pierce through the air cushioned sole effectively nailing the branch to my foot.  After a couple months the boots looked shabby and no amount of polish improved the situation. 
 
A false economy
 
No amount of polish could stop them leaking either.  After a year or so the what can only be described as cardboard insole perished and the soles were so perforated and flat that instead of the air cushioned ride I was promised, stepping on ants bruised my feet.  They were a complete waste of money and one of the reasons I never bothered to test their guarantee.  I will never wear a pair of Doc Martens again.  The other reason, of course, was that it would cost me more to send the boots back than they were worth.  My Alfred Sargents, on the other hand, will only have to last me six years and they will work out cheaper than the Doc Martens.

I have been wearing my Alfie Esses all day and even though they are new, they are very comfortable.  They do make a bit of a clumping noise as I walk across the wood floors of the cottage.  This annoys Marcia but to me is quite reassuring; they are obviously sturdy enough to be snake proof but with the seismic they create, any snake in the vicinity will have buggered off long before I get to squash it into the ground.   As for the Goodyear welted sole, it’ll be nice to take a walk in the bush without worrying about my feet being pinned to the countryside.

Marcia has found all this fuss over a pair of boots quite amusing but, being a girl, it is as hard for her to understand how important a single pair of good boots is to a man as it is for a man to understand why a woman needs more shoes than there are days in a year.  She had the last word as I sat down to type this.

‘I suppose we shall be burying you in your new boots then?’

No you bloody won’t, I thought, these will be passed down to Alex.
 
Alex road testing my boots waving another sword appropriate to his shirt
 

83 comments:

  1. The logistics of living in Angola seem to be a bit overwhelming.

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  2. isn't it wonderful to find a reputable company that still has pride in not only their product but their service as well? good for them and you!

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  3. Those boots do look rather dressy, seems a shame to scuff them up traipsing around the brush. Love the photo of Alex striking the pose.

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    1. They'll look all the better for being worn in (rather than worn out).

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  4. I love hearing stories of exceptional customer service and companies making quality products and standing behind them. Almost everything offered for sale in today's world is cheaply made and meant to be replaced in no time, and forget getting great service! It's good to hear there are still a few places that take their products and service seriously!

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    1. They are quite hard to find, though, aren't they?

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  5. For the past 50 years I have worn exactly the same style and colour suede 'Desert boots'. They tend to last about 4 or 5 years, cost about £20 a go, and after a few weeks wear become amazingly comfortable. Chic they are not; practical yes.

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    1. p.s. The only customer service 'perfection' I've received back in the UK, was from Kenwood; the makers of the 'chef'. Top class on every front.

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    2. The old desert boots were standard walking out rig in places such as Belize and Cyprus.

      Another firm that pulled out the stops for me was a small supplier of door hardware, they sent me the sliding door hardware for the cottages. Top blokes. The thing that made them and Tredders stand out was that I was dealing with a human being, not a customer service department..

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    3. We should always praise such people.

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    4. I would like to recommend the UK Agent for Huskvarna [also McCulloch and other makes]...
      living in France, as I think M.Magnon knows, they are all too keen to sell you a product...
      but after that you are on your own... and I have it on good authority from French friends that it isn't because I am Anglais... they get the same shove-off approach.
      The clutch spring for the 11 month old ride-on mower died... it is a cable and spring, one item part...
      and very clearly labelled with part number on the cable sleeve.
      Well, I rang a firm in the UK who couldn't find the part number on their files...
      so they told me to ring the UK Agent... a Mr. Peter Schilling...
      very nice man, a very, very nice man...
      rang me back in twenty minutes with the new part number...
      and the phone number of an online supplier who had the part in stock...
      after a week of frustration trying to get some service under guarantee in France...
      I got two cables sent out here for £26 inc. postage!
      Thank you Peter Schilling and Huskvarna!
      Now I think I'll see about a pair of those boots... the NF safety ones I recently bought are doing what your Doc Martens did... I don't mind air-conditioning in summer... but cold water sloshing around in me boots in winter ain't nice!!

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    5. I believe that NF is meant for Norn Francais....
      this is about the umpteenth NF item to fail...
      to me, now, NF equals....
      Non Functional....!!!

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    6. Not sure the French would be too pleased at you stamping all over the Norm Francais in sturdy English boots but if you fancy your chances I am sure Tredders can supply you a pair up to the job!

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  6. By the power of blogging you have done more for those boot suppliers than many expensive ad campaigns. In these days of tech savvy shoppers manufacturers and retailers need to be aware that word of mouth, as it were, can now reach across the globe and become a very powerful asset ...or handicap.

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    Replies
    1. They definitely deserved a Mention in Dispatches.

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  7. It makes you feel good to experience excellent customer service doesn't it? It doesn't happen very often but I am always very pleasantly surprised when it does. Alex always looks so happy.

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    1. A very pleasant experience. Given that all enterprises want to succeed, it makes you wonder why good customer service is the exception rather than the norm.

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  8. I thought that Glen Bogle was a valley in Scotland - a valley where you will find honey and the milk of human kindness as well as Alfred Sargent Zug Grain Veldt Boots hanging from the trees. By the way, Alex needs an eyepatch and a parrot if he is going to be a pirate.

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    Replies
    1. Should he saw a leg and hand off as well?

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    2. No. In my opinion that would be going a little too far.

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  9. Awesome customer service. And a nice sword thrown in as well. Glad you considered/mentioned the snake angle. I have no doubt they are making alternative plans as we speak.

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    Replies
    1. And their boots are excellent!

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  10. My Mr Him has had boot failure after great expense. You have hit upon a supplier of wonder here. The family small business are so much more flexible then these generic large chain stores. I bought a pair of sandals from a small northern supplier and they arrived with a handwritten compliment slip.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe these small northern suppliers don't have typewrites?

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  11. I have a pair of hiking boots that are showing a bit of wear. I've had them for about 16 years now, and I must admit I don't always take care of them. I needed to get a pair of steel-toed boots for my chainsaw class, and a local store really went out of their way to tell me what models they have for women (very few exist), and the style I preferred was at another of their stores about 45 minutes away. They told the other store to hold a few pairs for me in two or three sizes as the person wasn't sure if that particular style ran small, large, or true. Turns out, they run true.

    Excellent customer service will bring me back to a store, and I let everyone local know about my great experience (I don't think they do online stuff).

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    Replies
    1. Dominic is here for the weekend and is picking his new boots from Tredders,

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  12. What great service after the disappointment of that last inflexible lazy bunch. Kind of restores your faith in humanity. Happy hiking.

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  13. Yay, so glad you were able to get the boots you wanted (what did we do before the internet?) This is why some business do well at exports and others don't. Maybe you should recommend Saint Glen for an MBE or something?

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    1. I think you'd look quite fetching in a pair of his wellies...

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  14. "... if anyone tells you something is impossible..." I absolutely subscribe to that; persistence is my middle name. It's sometimes confused with "doggedly irritating".

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    1. Of course the easy way to get rid of us is to say, 'I reckon it would be impossible to leap over that impossibly wide chasm in a single bound...'

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  15. How great that you were able to buy the ideal boots for you, comfortable and yet will scare off snakes. It makes me smile to think of the helpful man who sold you the boots and found shipping to you to be no problem.

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    1. He put a big smile on my face too!

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  16. It's funny isn't it. I have a few good pairs of shoes and boots whereas my wife has blinking loads! When we first lived together all her shoes were getting on my nerves so I said I'd hid one from each pair and she hadn't noticed (therefore showing she didn't need so many), but she called my bluff and checked! I don;t mention it now as it makes for a happier marriage.
    I've been buying better wellies lately as it occurred to me that I spend much of my life in them and complain about how rubbish they are yet only spend a tenner. My new ones seem much better but I'm bound to spike them soon!
    Sounded like a good company - shame he didn't sell woodworking tools!

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    Replies
    1. You could cut quite a dash in a pair of those stripey wellies with the pink tops and you're hard enough to get away with it!

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    2. I would but they don't go up to size eleven!

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  17. Nice shoes. I am sorely tempted. It would be more comforting if they worded this better: 3.Faulty Goods.
    Goods will be determined as faulty if they have been received damaged, or a manufacturing fault occurs within 6 months to 1 year of purchase, depending on manufacturer's requirements.
    Items that are damaged as a result of wear and tear will not be considered as faulty.

    Does this mean that if they fall apart due to a manufacturing defect in less than six months you are out of luck. Or are some boots good for a years wear & others only six months?
    Somehow I think they will stand behind them while we stand within.

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    1. It is a little ambiguous. I shall pray to St Glen and seek enlightenment.

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    2. Good afternoon MuddyValley,

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, rest assured that should there be a problem in the 1st 6 months you would not be hung out to dry! You would be provided a replacement should the manufacturer find a fault after an inspection.

      In some cases, if it is an obvious fault, all some manufacturers require is a photo of the fault to be able to officially say there is a fault and issue a replacement.

      I hope this is of help to you, again thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have out T's & C's man looking into it!

      Kind Regards

      St Glen of Castle Ashby

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  18. Replies
    1. Jean-new-wine rattlesnake crushers...

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    2. You know, you'll have to talk like that more often once you have a ranger belt again... if I didn't scare you off, that is.

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  19. I'm thinking a new post tomorrow! :)

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  20. I'm thinking a new post tomorrow! :)

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  21. I was convinced there would be an April 1st post.

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  22. I was convinced there would be an April 1st post.

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  23. I really appreciate your professional approach. These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

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  24. Nearly a month now. I reckon the new boots must nearly be worn in. That or the snake got him!

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  25. Say old chap, you leaving us in the lurch again? Hope all is well and your absence is not an indication of something gone awry. Throw your readers a bone won't ya please.

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  26. Hoping all is OK with you.

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  27. Dear Hippo,

    My name is Joe Pinzone and I'm casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We'd love to film in Angola and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The contributors on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed. If you'd like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at joepinzone@leopardusa.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

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  28. Does anyone know what is happening? is our intrepid hero ok?

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  29. Where where are you Hippo? I walked past Bethel Street today and though of the cells.

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  30. I'm wondering too, Rachel. :(

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  31. Dear Hippo
    Please feed us a crumb.

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  32. Tom, you stopped blogging on my birthday, and it is not the sort of birthday present I had hoped for. Not at all. Nearing four months without so much as a "fare thee well" from you, I do hope all is well with you and yours there in your adopted part of the world. I also trust the restaurant is coming along well and the new boots are broken in by now. Let us know how you are doing, for crying out loud....

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  33. Its nearly 4 months now…I keep checking for a post every so often. Hope you are all OK. Please just do a short post letting your pals know that you are ok. X

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    Replies
    1. I tried email to no avail. Is every one else quite worried - has anyone heard - is every thing OK

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  34. It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! Thanks for sharing the such information with us.

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  35. I am sure he is fine. He probably just has more important stuff to do. Blogs are funny things sometimes you just forget about them.

    Andy

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  36. Hey Tom, Yoghurt Knitter No.1 here. Hows your toe? Thought of you today when I bought a new bike, it is going to take 3 weeks. Should have bought it, had it sent to Germany and then back it sounds like it would have been quicker.

    Hope all is ok. Sol

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  37. You made numerous nice ideas there. I done a search on the issue and learnt nearly all peoples will agree with your blog.

    artificial grass suppliers in delhi

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  38. I love your post. Very informative. Thanks for the ideas!

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  39. I realise you may never read this, but I with the Gowans a very merry Christmas. I hope all is well with you and yours and it has been a most entertaining time.
    I also extend my best wishes to all the other people I have "met" opn this site.
    Merry Christmas to you all.

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  40. Blooming typo. I wish, not I with the Gowans!!

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  41. I realise you may never read this, but I with the Gowans a very merry Christmas. I hope all is well with you and yours and it has been a most entertaining time.
    I also extend my best wishes to all the other people I have "met" opn this site.
    Merry Christmas to you all.

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  42. Tom,
    Have very much missed your posts over the last few months. Regardless of whatever challenges you face I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    Ed

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  43. Has anyone heard anything regarding Tom? If so, please let us know something. I'm feeling very worried as it doesn't seem like Tom to just leave anyone in the lurch.

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  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  45. Just heard via John's blog your lovely news. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. And so glad to know you're alright.

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  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  47. Tom, congratulations to you and Marcia!
    Now get your finger out and give us an update.

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  48. Tom - great to hear through others, who head from others that you are alright :) Thought some government goons had come down to take your property or some poisonous beast got to you. I just recommended your blog to a friend from South Africa only to realize that you haven't written for so long. Hey, I understand, there's a new born to take care of - and pretty sure Marcia will be demanding - but look at what you have done to us, these followers are more loyal than Kim Kardashian's :) So just give us a sign of life, a couple of witty lines and a picture of your family and beautiful Angola and we'll shut up, OK? Thx & Cheers from Switzerland, M

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  50. I just wanted a moment to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. You may never see this. I know you stopped blogging,I just wanted to let you know you are still on my mind,and strangely enough I still care about you and you family. I hope peace is in your home over the holidays.

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  51. Hi Tom,
    I doubt you will ever read this, but I do miss your stories of your life and family. I keep you on my " favourites" bar just in case you should return. I hope that all is well with you and Marcia and the family, who must be growing fast! Love to you all from Harpenden. XX

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Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.