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Name: Lee
Sign: Gemini/Horse
Located: Carmarthen, Wales
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October 5th, 2014

My last entry just under a month ago saw me writing about me wanting to get more involved with the community, in particular with the community of Llangunnor. I am already a community councillor, a member of the parochial church council, litter champion and behind the Llangunnor Network web site.

I also mentioned in my last entry that I was going to be visiting the Eden Project with Big Lunch Extras – (I shall write more of this again) and while this did offer encouragement it also made me realise how lethargic the residents of Llangunnor have become.

A week of events last week had a very poor turn out, okay it could be that the events did not interest people but a talk on “Riotous Carmarthen” pulled in 14 people!

Of course my quiz took place last Tuesday with a first prize of £40 in vouchers and a consolation prize worth £5 to the team in last position it does not take a mathematical genius to work out how well it went with 15 people each paying £2 to take part.

It is not so much the loss that was made it was the apparent apathy of local residents, nothing goes on locally but when something does they would much rather stay in and watch television!

Four faces that I was not expecting to turn up did and I am grateful to the ladies from St Cynnwr Woman’s Institute for making the effort. Nice to see some of the members from Llangunnor Church turn up but I do wonder where the team from Babell Chapel were on that night – I have supported quiz nights that they have held in the past with my overgenerous donations of first prize (£40 for the last two quizzes they have held)

Even taking a loss I am still committed to driving ahead so I look at my next project to latch on to the annual Christmas Tree light switch on. This event is arranged by the community council and it does manage to bring a lot of people together all huddled on the pavement for the 15 minutes it takes to sing a carol or two and switch on the lights – everyone then disappears.

I suggested after the event last year that it would make more sense if we the council invited everyone back to the school for a mince pie and maybe more singing, to actually make more of the event. Members were all for the idea and discussion of speaking to the school PTA were to follow.

I’ve taken matters into my own hands, I have spoken to the local chapel and asked to use it on the evening and have gotten the council to agree to invite everyone there after the switch on – I shall fund the mince pies and drinks myself and am looking to form a lantern parade, something that will extend the event and make it something more than it is at the moment.

Of course there is only so much money I can personally use to support these activities and my hope is that engaging with the community like this would encourage greater participation in future events so that a profit is made and that profit can then go on to support further events.

Community Minded

September 7th, 2014

Here we are at the start of September and I really don’t know what happened to summer, it has come and gone in a flash!

I have been trying to get more involved with the community and helped with a Big Lunch event held at Carmarthen Park in July and will be going to the Eden Project later this month for the weekend which is about helping individuals across the UK create positive change within their communities.

How much one individual can realistically do, especially when I work full time is another thing. Hopes that the community council would be receptive to working in the community appears to be non existent. I shall be carrying out a community quiz at the end of the month, I am funding this myself and I hope that it is well supported (it is very likely going to lose money) as for years local people have complained that nothing every happens around here but when something is organised there is always a long list of excuses as to why no one came to the event.

The last few months has also seen work on my project build up momentum, again this is very much community orientated with being used to preserve the past as well as promoting the community. Work is slow with the old records but I have made some progress with creating information pages for local groups and organisations.

Hopefully give an update as to what happens when I go to the Eden Project later this month.

Charity Begins At Home

June 4th, 2014

I really don’t know where the last six months have gone, they have flown by at an alarming rate.

Yesterday was my birthday and it was a long day with various meetings, the last of those with the group of people who have been volunteering to maintain the graveyard of Llangunnor Church.

The church had signed up to Time Credits in July 2013 so that the volunteers could earn one for every hour these could then be used at a range of places – One of the conditions that the church had been made aware of from the start is that they would have to provide activities so that these earned credits could be used and other volunteers from outside organisations could also use their credits.

To date Llangunnor Church has not put on any activities that allowed anyone with Time Credits to use them and after last night it became clear that they had no intention of putting any on as it is more important for the church to raise funds, which they will be doing with a Strawberry Tea later this month.

This has left me feeling deflated as one of the things I have been trying to do for so long is to build community spirit and while money can be important in these times it is a shame that the people of Llangunnor Church seem to have lost sight that you need to have some give and take.

As a member of Llangunnor Church I effectively pay each week and am left wondering if the limited amount I give each week could be better utilised elsewhere I have bought 5 tickets to the Strawberry Tea at a cost of £15 to myself but ultimately the church will pay as I will ensure that they lose double that amount from me in collections. I will need to consider my position on the Parochial Church Council.

– Six Month Review –
Anyway six months ago I made the following list of what I wanted to achieve in 2014.
1. Renew my passport.
2. De-clutter my room.
3. Use my slow cooker to make a meal at least once a month.
4. Visit Beamish
5. Go see a show in a theatre.
6. Complete at least 10 years of transcriptions of Council records.

Ashamed to say that very little of this has even been attempted over the last six months. My passport has expired and I am sure very little effort is needed to renew it but it comes down to money. De-cluttering my room should have been done and no real excuse for this except lethargy mixed with some sentimentality. I had toyed with the idea of going to see War Horse at the theatre in Cardiff checked a few prices and left it on hold to see if I could get a better deal for a show in London.

The only thing that has been worked on has been the transcriptions of Council records but not 10 years yet.

No doubt it will be another six months before I find the time to post anything here.

2014 – New Beginnings

January 2nd, 2014

I wonder how many people made resolutions over the New Year period? Strange that people see the New Year as the best time to make a change in their life – of course you can make resolutions or start diets at any time of the year.

So what does 2014 have in store for me, I don’t make resolutions but do try and have a think about what I would like to achieve over the next twelve months (I’m still annoyed at the length of time it took me to finally give up on the 101 things in 1001 days challenge).

I just hope that 2014 does not continue as it started out with me feeling quite ill with a cold and doing very little yesterday – something not helped by the dreadful weather in this part of the world at the moment.

So what do I hope to achieve within the next twelve months – be good to review this in a years time!

1. Renew my passport.
2. De-clutter my room.
3. Use my slow cooker to make a meal at least once a month.
4. Visit Beamish
5. Go see a show in a theatre.
6. Complete at least 10 years of transcriptions of Council records.

Well once I started it was difficult to stop but 6 items to attempt to do within the next twelve months is a start. I shall hopefully review these in a few months time!

Year End 2013

January 1st, 2014

For the last couple of years I’ve always written something at the end of the year – a sort of digest of the last twelve months in my life and why break with this tradition.

I’ve finalised my accounts for the last year and rather disappointed to see that total interest (earned from savings) has fallen to £80.10 for 2013, this is down from the £92.10 for 2012 and £88.97 from 2011. However the total amount of my savings continues to grow so most likely poor interest rates from the accounts the money is held in – I will need to take a look at moving money around to maximise interest.

Let’s see if I can get over £100 interest next year.

Car loan has now been repaid so I have more disposable income each month but unlike the last time my loan ended I want to make sure that the money that was being used to repay the loan is being ploughed into savings as I am sure that I will need to replace my car again and want to avoid/limit the amount of any new loan that I may have to take out.

I don’t do resolutions but I did want to set myself some goals for 2013 and all I came up with was the following –

# Make better use of the food stocks I have at home
# Reclaim the floor space in my living space.

Needless to say these were both soon forgotten about and not achieved, I really will need to make more of an effort to use my food stocks and not buy new food. I’m hoping at with food left over from Christmas I will be able to go a little while before having to go out for essentials. My living space is still an atrocious mess and it does seem rather pointless to say that I will clear it up and maintain it for yet another year.

Over the last twelve months things have generally been good, I’ve had a few opportunities to get involved with the community in Llangunnor with various activities that engage different sections of the community.

I helped to organised and carry out a community litter pick – something I have wanted to do since becoming a litter champion in 2012. The event was organised with outside assistance from the people who are promoting “Time Credit” in Carmarthenshire. I would have hoped that the community council would have realised what an advantage Time Credits could be to improving community engagement with the council.

2012 also saw the folks at Llangunnor Church get together to organise a working party to maintain the graveyard, with my ongoing research into the graveyard I though this would be an ideal opportunity to record some information while also doing something worthwhile. They even signed up to the Time Credit scheme so I get rewarded for my time spent.

Friendship Centre opened up at the local chapel and again I felt it was important to assist in anyway I could with this venture as it is another community resource with a great set of people who are actively trying to make things better.

Start of June saw me helping another community spirited individual with a Big Lunch – this should have been a great free event but it had such limited support from the community at large that I was disappointed and it goes to show how much work is needed to recreate a community in Llangunnor.

June was also my 35th birthday and I spent it up in Cardiff going to visit the Doctor Who Experience and spend the afternoon walking around the Bay.

An article appeared in the local newspaper during August regarding the litter picking activities that I have been doing had I hoped would spark up some more local interest but nothing, I still however speak to people when I am out and about clearing litter.

2013 saw me travel about a little, not overseas but went for a few day trips and something that I really should make more time to do, September I used some of my well earned Time Credits to go to a food fair at St Fagans – fantastic weather for this time of year and also travelled again with Time Credits to the Christmas Market in Birmingham – both trips effectively free of charge

I also went to visit old school friends, Nathan and Kate down in Ringwood and to celebrate the wedding of David and Nicola in Scotland, it was lovely to see Davids parents again after such a long time. My first visit to Scotland and to Edinburgh was great and somewhere I would love to go again but maybe not driving the 8 hours to get there in one day!

Not much work has been done on the old family tree during the last twelve months, I did visit Bath and find the final resting place of my Great Great Grandparents (with thanks to a chap from Bath for doing some research for me).

November I did what you might call my first photo session at a wedding, certainly something which was not planned and was as a favour to a fellow councillor but what a stressful situation to be in – made all the worse when it appeared that the official photographer did not turn up at the church. I handed the disk of photos that I felt were acceptable to them yesterday. As I see it I charged them nothing so they cannot complain about the photos taken.

I suppose I should mention work even if only in passing been pretty much the same as always – working for the Government is certainly not the guaranteed job many people seem to think it is and things will only get worse with cutbacks and the eroding of employee rights. Personally I plod along do my job and go home.

I have spoken about Christmas previously and as I sit in on New Years Eve watching television and the firework display in London with a glass of port and a bunged up nose to toast in 2014.

We shall certainly find out what it has in store for each and everyone of us…