This blog is a thank you to the Northumberland Gazette for publishing my letter, and of course for helping me to make a few points.
Saturday 17 January 2015
Better late than never! Christmas gifts from Alnwick.
Unsung heroes – we have a few to thank. The check-in lady at Newcastle Airport who kindly overlooked our excess weight, so various toys, chocolates, shortbread, smoked salmon and even a Christmas pudding found their way to Cambodia.
Mainly though, we wish to thank the lads and lasses who work in the Alnwick charity shops.
They always greet my Cambodian wife as a long-lost friend, when we have returned once or twice a year over the past 14 years.
Mind you, they were surprised the first time they encountered her. Who else would dare to bargain in a charity shop as is the custom in Asia?
Yet with good humour, they usually give her a deal.
Here [photograph above] Navin, six, Samnang, whose name means Lucky, eight, Rethya, 10, and Chetra, two, have their model toy cars.
I wonder if the Alnwick children who donated them would have any idea where they would end up or how much they would be appreciated? Charity shops are sometimes cast as a by-word for struggling high streets, but they do a lot of good. One member of my family, who I had better not name, usually remonstrates: “Why buy that rubbish?”
Well, as these children demonstrate, the answer is it’s not rubbish to them.
More importantly, Cancer Research, Oxfam, RSPCA , Salvation Army and HospiceCare-Wooler (pictured below) have a little more revenue to keep up their good deeds, despite the slight discounts. So everyone’s a winner.
Most time is spent in searching out absolute bargains, and the favourite - the kind that weighs mostly heavily in the heavy suitcases I have to cart back to Cambodia - are party frocks, many of which have been worn just once for weddings. In fact a few bride's dresses have found their way back to be greatly appreciated. They tend to be better quality than in Cambodia and beyond the means of most brides. Local seamstresses are excellent and cheap in altering them for size. Here is Srey Nut (Age 8) chuffed with her dress from Wooler Hospice Shop. The bag and shoes were from Alnwick.
A postscript to the story - May 2015
I was told off back in January for leaving a bag in the fridge at the Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle where we stayed before flying out. I denied the mistake, of course! In May, the missus was asked why she had not collected her bag? It had been put in her brother's fridge after we arrived back in Cambodia. There in perfect condition was the Wensleydale Cheese bought at the Co-op in Wooler! It was quite a belated treat and a testament to the cheese-maker. Who cared the sell-by date was in February?
The Lobby of the Royal Station Hotel, with my accuser! What a splendid hotel - vastly superior in so many ways to the characterless modern predictable places that in my view seldom deserve the ratings they get. And just a few yards away you also have the equally impressive Centurion Bar at Central Station!