DECEMBER TRADITIONS PART TWO

 

FATHER CHRISTMAS/SANTA CLAUS

United Kingdom and North America

Well, this is the one for me, the one I know the most about, having been born and bred in England. I just loved Christmas as a child, and still do really, even though a little bit of the sparkle has gone since I grew up.

But we are all a child a heart and the minute I see Christmas trees, holly and decorations, I am, deep inside, that same child who loves Christmas

As I said in my blog about the Netherlands, when I came to live here, no one really bothered about Christmas, but now it is a big event.

So what is all about:

Well, each and every child is told at a very early age about Father Christmas and that he lives at the North Pole. There with his family of eleves, he spends the entire year making toys for children. Everyone sends off a letter to him to tell him if they have been ‘naughty or nice’ and you are on THE LIST. Father Christmas checks it twice, remember the famous song, and on Christmas Eve (24thDecember) he departs with an immense sack of toys, a sleigh and reindeer all over the world. Magic happens, he can go down chimneys, through fireplaces and is able to put a present by every single Christmas tree, which is all decorated with baubles, tinsel, glitter and lights. Every child leaves him a mince pie and a glass of milk and perhaps something for the reindeer and miraculously he gets around the entire world all in one night.

I remember it well as a child, the most exciting time of the year, even better than birthdays. Yes, really.

So let’s talk a bit first about the history of Father Christmas or Santa Claus.

The first records about Father Christmas date back to the 15thCentury. The figure as we know him today was developed in the Victorian period. Originally the Puritan controlled English Government tried unsuccessfully to abolish Father Christmas but the Royalist supporters, linked the tradition not only to gift-bringing and giving, but also to days of feasting, drinking and good cheer.  It was actually in Victorian times, Father Christmas was accepted as a ‘person’ who was more associated with children than adults. The myth of Santa Claus (which originated from America) came to England in 1850 and has grown a lot since that date. There is really no difference anymore about the different names, Father Christmas or Santa Claus, both are now accepted as being the same.

Father Christmas is now personified as being a jolly, slightly overweight man, in a red hooded cloak, trimmed with white fur. He has white hair and a long white beard. Always carried a large sack of presents of course! Remember?

On Christmas Eve we would usually go to the cinema for the latest Disney film. The one etched in my memory the most was Sleeping Beauty and the magical fairies. As a small child, I really believed in it all. Going home on a bright starlight clear night, stopping at the phone box (yes probably many of you will not even remember them). We would phone my grandparents up north, wish them Merry Christmas, because my grandfather would be holding services at his church. I never really understood the true meaning of him being a non-conformist minister, it sounds as if he just wanted to do things a bit different in his church, Zion in Hyde, Cheshire, UK. Good for him, it is a bit like I am I suppose, I like to do things differently too, too many rules and regulations are something that I cannot do at all.

Then we would go home, have mince pies and of course a cuppa! Then off to bed, it was later than usual and there would be no visit from Father Christmas until all children are asleep.

Then the following morning I would be awake at about 5am, rush into our lounge and marvel at the piles and piles of presents. Waking my parents up, so totally over excited. My Mum would make tea, looking as is she was half asleep (well she was). Then we would open presents and no we never managed to save some for later. After breakfast the work would start for The Christmas Dinner. Usually my other grandparents were staying with us too. So it was all fun, I thought. I would play with all the new things whilst there was a hive of activity in the kitchen.

Christmas dinner or a very late lunch was just before the Queen’s speech at 3pm. It was not done to miss that! And when you think she is 93 now and still giving our her Christmas Message, it’s quite a remarkable thing isn’t it.

Back to Father Christmas, when all the presents are delivered he and a very tired group of reindeer travel back to the North Pole, until next year.

I think that this tradition is similar in many European countries too, but I would love some feedback from you please readers. Subscribers to my RSS fed. Please share your story. One thing I remember when I had my own children was that it was a real major task each and every year, splitting the presents between Sinterklaas and Christmas. I always tried to have a theme each year, and everyone would get something relating to that theme. From socks to watches, from perfume to aftershave.

And there is one thing I just have to have each and every Christmas and that is a mince pie. My mother used to make the best ever. She was really good at shortcrust pastry. Mincemeat for those who have never heard of it, is a mixture of dried fruits, suet and sometimes nuts. You make a pie of pastry (small), fill it, place a topping on and bake. My Christmas box has arrived this morning from the British Corner Shop in the UK and I will take a photo and add to the blog, so you can see for yourselves. So heaven from now, on each and every coffee break, no one else eats them and I have 12, for the 12 Days of Christmas, like the famous song. And a Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding. I am all sorted out this year.

So miss ‘Marks and Spencers’ here in The Hague, that was always a day out with my son, shopping and having so many bags from there, we had to always take them back to the car before carrying on. Because believe me there is absolutely no chocolate anywhere in the world, like Cadbury’s.

On Friday this week a friend is coming for the day and we will go to the Christmas Market at the garden centre, the largest in Holland.

So wherever you are in this world, which ever way you celebrate, just a final message to finish off these two blogs.

I wish you all a very ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’. Thank you to all my readers for all your support this year, the huge amount of reactions I have had from all of you. I have tried as much as possible to reply to all of them. If you want to ask me something specifically or something you do not want to share in the feed, you can. Just send me an email to wordpassion12@gmail.com. Please mark it personal though I get on average about 200-300 each and every day.

Make sure you kiss all your loved ones this year under the Mistletoe. (The blog about this is in the feed December 2017)

DECEMBER TRADITIONS PART ONE

Make December a month to remember!

Since my website seems to be trending all over the world, suddenly people get in touch with me and cross my path. Often with questions about which programme I am using for my blogs and which support engine i.e. domain. Sometimes it loads up really fast, sometimes too slow, how do I add plugin’s and so on. So before I go on: I am using WordPress supported by Hostnet PRO and Google Chrome is the best.

Other people have questions about my books and I really enjoy connecting with people across the globe. Often simple questions and chats turn into longer conversations and all of a sudden you find yourself with a new friend, in another country, another continent, another belief, different languages, different traditions and different celebrations in the month of December.

So to this special person, (yes, inspired by you Laim) the first part of my blog about December traditions is all about the Jewish celebration of Chanoeka or Hanukkah. This year, 2018 it officially begins at sunset on Sunday 2ndDecember for a period of 8 days. Inspired by the words: Honesty above Forgery. Spirituality above Materialism.

Virtually everyone knows that this Jewish tradition is all about the ancient festival of light. But when I looked up more information about it, it is incredibly interesting and this is the reason why I am sharing with you

We have all heard of the special candelabra (menorah) with nine candles, which is officially called a Chanoekia. It used to have seven candles; I am not sure why this has changed? Anyone know? Each day a candle is lit until they are all, the ninth being lit on the final day. Some traditions say all are lit at the same time, and in ancient times burned all 8 days, but I prefer to think myself that this may have been the oil used in the cleansing ritual as opposed to an actual candle. Please correct me if I am wrong in the comments.

Sometimes there are four Hebrew letters on the candelabra (see photo). These are:

Noen, Gimmel, He and Sijen. The most popular meaning of this four-letter combination is: nes gadol haja sjam– meaning a great wonder, which occurred. This relates to the wonder of the Chanoeka bottle, which was used to initiate the Temple in ancient times in Jerusalem.

Other explanations for the words are: noen= nothing, gimmel= ganz (everything), he= half and sijen= pay.

(A simple explanation is; that you should put your money back into the pot), which in itself it very similar to the collection in Christian churches to this day. And also to modern day casinos, would you believe it, when you place a bet and have a win, often it is expected that you give your original bet (amount) back to the house!

The tradition of Chanoeka dates back to very ancient times. In fact to 165 BC.

The story of Chanoeka can be found in books 1 and 2 of Maccabees. The books as such are not part officially part of the Tenach, (a Jewish holy book) but a part of the Apocrypha (a book of unknown origin). Written at the time of a Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid dynasty.

Chanoeka was initiated by Judah Maccabees and his brothers. It was a joyful celebration of the dedication of the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. Judah gave the instruction to cleanse the Temple and to build a new altar. When the light was ignited, this was celebrated for the next 8 days. Offers were given and celebrations took place, singing songs, playing games and often with a toy called a ‘top’. This was called a Sevinon or Dreidel with a letter on each side (as above). Often filled with special cleansing oil.

Chanoeka has been celebrated for more than 21 centuries, so it is an ancient tradition. A festival of light. For 8 days. This year ending on 10th December.

Often people make latkes (potato cakes) and Soefgariot (donuts).

 

Actually when you think about this, it’s something, which is celebrated in a similar way with the Christian Advent (the coming of an event – the birth of Jesus), when a candle is lit on the first Sunday in December continuing on for the next four weeks until Christmas.

 

 

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SINTERKLAAS IN THE NETHERLANDS

When I first came to live in The Netherlands, I had never heard before of the celebration of Sinterklaas. (St. Nicholas). This is celebrated on the 5thDecember.

St Nicholas originated from Turkey but came to The Netherlands from Spain with his Moorish helpers, known as Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters) in olden times. His steam ship would arrive in one of the ports along the Dutch coastline and he would bring toys and special things for children, who have been good all year. One of the things he brought in years gone by, were oranges from Spain. In those days, many people had never ever seen an orange let alone tasted one.

In the days leading up to 5th December, Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters) bring small toys for children who put their shoes by fireplace before they go to bed, leaving a carrot for Sinterklaas’ horse Amerigo.

On the actual day, in other words: the main event: a large sack of presents arrive at the door. Children are of course by this time extremely excited. Families also make funny presents and rhymes for older family members. This is often a moment, when you can tease someone about something that has happened during the year. But all in all, a fun evening, both for young and old.

There are lots of sweets and biscuits made around this time of year, most famous are ‘pepernoten’ (small cinnamon biscuits), ’suikerbeesten’ (small animals made from sugar), ‘chocolate letters (usually with your own initial) and ‘speculaas’ (again a spicy biscuit sometimes filled with marzipan and extremely sweet chocolate ‘kikkers and muizen’ (frogs and mice).  It is interesting to see how these days, a lot of recipes and such like are now using much less sugar than before!). No one ever worried about that before! Or about long term effects!

This is an old tradition dating back over several hundreds of years and it is very sad that recently people have started to take offense to the Black Peter’s describing this racist and such like. Often in the past couple of years, angry demonstrations occurred in places, when Sinterklaas arrives in his boat. This is sad I think, because this is a celebration and old tradition for children, not adults and they do not understand for one moment what all this sudden fuss is all about. They are excited when he arrives, try to behave and be extra good in anticipation of the presents on the 5th. Sinterklaas actually celebrates his own birthday on the 6thDecember. I think it will be a real shame if this eventually disappears just because of intolerance and misunderstanding.

During the years I have lived here, Christmas, which was hardly apparent when I first came, has really overtaken Sinterklaas and is celebrated by more and more people each year. People put trees and decorations in their homes and gardens, which all looks really magical on the darker evenings. So basically they are celebrating the light too?

Father Christmas seems to be taking over slowly but surely.

 

To be continued…. and please if you feel like sharing the traditions and customs in your own country, leave a comment which I can then add to the feed.

 

Images: Google Images

IS BIG BROTHER REALLY WATCHING YOU??

It seems that Internet security is a trending topic at the moment. It certainly keeps coming up in my life. This week I found out something that is really shocking and that is why I am sharing it with you via this blog.

We have all known for a long time the way ‘Big Brother’ is watching all the time. It is purely a sign of the times, as we say, the connection across the globe. Less than twenty years ago (yes, really), the World Wide Web was just taking a hold of our lives.

Now we all are connected with our smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers and it is really a huge part of our daily lives. We just love to share and everyone does it.

My son recently said to me, they (Big Brother) could see everything you do via the camera in your equipment. I sort of shrugged it off as an almost ridiculous idea. But believe me it is NOT!

Read on please …..

 

Yesterday I watched a programme about 5 Danish students who were asked officially to design a special app. The app when downloaded would give them access to literally everything in say, someone’s smartphone. Sounds impossible, absolutely not. I will explain.

When we download apps and I was really surprised how many,  people actually have, we agree to the so-called Terms and Conditions. Do any of us really bother to read, no, we just click on ‘agree’. Hidden in masses of words are our agreement that the app accesses our microphone and camera. Really!

One of the biggest users of our data is Facebook and Google. Don’t believe me? Well, think about this. If you just happen to like something on Facebook about say a place like Bali, have you then noticed that suddenly you seem to get a lot of information about Bali. This is wonderful if you are actually planning to go, but for the majority of people around the world, this is not the case. Google look, with their gi-normous search engines and computer capacity, and by agreeing to their terms and conditions, they may use your data. By this I mean your photos, your chats, literally everything.

So going back to the Danish students. They developed and did a trial on the app, amongst themselves. They were surprised how much they could actually follow including a conversation on say an app like Whatsapp video. This is alarming. Would you want someone you did not know to be able to listen in to your private discussions, access your messages (through social media) or access all your data. What about the fact that virtually all of us have the mobile app on our phones for  Internet banking (Tikkie too)?

They then did a survey by offering the app for free (which was called Flashlight) to people on the street. Remember this was a survey, so they did tell all the people at the end why. Literally everyone handed over their phone to install the app. Amazing. Would you? Your answer is more than likely yes.

They did the same with Danish government officials too. Everyone downloaded and accepted the app.

This app was specially designed for one purpose, so show people how vulnerable they are. The results were mind blowing as you can imagine, everyone was flabbergasted how easy it was and how unprotected they were.

Now having read this, take some time today to look at the apps on your phone, tablets etc etc. Via Settings, look how many of your apps have access to your camera and your microphone. Virtually all of them. Switch it off right now!!

If you regularly use say Whatsapp for video chatting to friends, this is probably the only one you should leave open, because Whatsapp is actually encrypted from person to person. All the same, remember you are leaving a small space open for access.

I did exactly the same when the programme ended. I was shattered how many of my apps gave access to my microphone, camera and worst of all, my location. Normally I never have my location switched on, because if this is on, you can be followed all over the place. All over the place! Every single second, every single minute, every single hour, every single day!

Now I probably know that the younger readers amongst us maybe will not care. They are sharing so much through apps likes Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp to name but a few, but isn’t is maybe our responsibility as parents to inform them?

When downloading an app, do you literally take the time to wade through all the Terms and Conditions? I almost guarantee you do not.

Although sharing is fine and we all love to be connected, maybe it is a moment to take a small step back and really think about what you are sharing. If for instance you google something like ‘removal firms’ because you are moving in say a month or two, take note that you will suddenly begin to receive all sorts of information related to this subject. From storage to removal. It is true isn’t it?

I honestly think a programme like this should be shown worldwide and definitely to kids in schools. They are so vulnerable and in their innocence they share EVERYTHING. How many stories have we all read now about risqué photos being shared with boyfriends or girlfriends that have ended up being shared with the entire school and then not to mention the shame. This can be a serious problem for young teenagers, even leading to suicide. We should not take this lightly!

The Danish government officials were absolutely shocked about how easy it was and knowing the Danes, I am sure they will do something on a more national scale. Probably a lot of people watched the programme, I am so glad it was shown here in The Netherlands too.

So take time, switch off microphone and camera access in apps where this in inapplicable. If you use Google Hangouts for example which is another really popular medium to chat, then perhaps you should shut off (camera, microphone and don’t forget location) when the chat is over. Yes, it is boring to have to do this each and every time, but if your chat is personal and you do not want to share, maybe this is the answer, only access your camera and microphone for the chat and then switch off.

I don’t have the answers, I really don’t but I think it is time for a wake up call for all of us. Share, yes please do, but be selective and you may have a phone, tablet full of apps. Do you actually use them? Do you still want to keep them? If not delete.

One of my closest friends always says this: control, alt, delete. It is a good motto.

Just one final thought, remember Google, Facebook, Instagram, all have one thing in mind and that is making profit. They do that by selling our data to people for advertising. Simple fact. You would be surprised to know the enormity of their profits.

This topic keeps cropping up in my life; make sure if you read this, you pay attention. My idea is that everything crosses our paths for a reason.

Please share this blog around your own social circles. You, like me, will be surprised how open and vulnerable we make ourselves.

Remember the old saying: Pre-warned is pre-armed.

Don’t allow yourself to become a victim. Don’t succumb by just being lazy.

Just one final thing: George Orwell wrote about ‘big brother watching you’ in his book in 1984! Yes 1984, long before some of us had even heard the words: World Wide Web!!

 

Image: Google Images

WHAT HAVE YOU BECOME?

Saturday, 17th November 2018

This morning I opened the magazine that comes with the Saturday edition of the national newspaper and started to read an article. All of a sudden these words literally jumped off the page and caught my attention. They said:

‘This is what I have become, but could I have become or been more, if I would dare’.

Pretty powerful words and of course, inspiration for a blog today.

It just so happened literally a split second later I got a message from a new friend. Someone who is literally thousands of miles away from me, on another continent, another hemisphere who told me that they had been awarded a really wonderful contract and would be leaving as soon as possible for Japan.

‘Japan???? I typed back, you did not say’!

Of course I am really thrilled for that person. Yes, I knew they were working on a special project over the past couple of weeks, night and day, but they had never mentioned Japan.

And then these words this morning. Coincidence. I don’t think so. When I said that I thought they were going to get this contract, well actually I was convinced that they were, then the question back to me ‘how did you know?’

I didn’t rationally speaking of course; but deep down inside at a much deeper level I did know. I saw in the words shared in our chats, such a huge passion for the work, the project and the opportunity. I have written many times in other blogs about if you truly believe, you can manifest your dreams. Well point proven then?

So I sat back and thought about them. Leaving the country they know so well, the family, everything familiar and taking a huge leap into something new. Now that I can seriously call: a dare!

Going to another continent, another culture, another language, which is very difficult, learning new customs, values, different type of foods, the list is endless. What an opportunity.

So my question to you dear reader this sunny November morning is:  what would your answer be to this question? My friend answered immediately with the words, ‘yes I dare! Do you?’

Now that is the question? Do I, in principle I do and like to think that during my life I have taken the right steps and sometimes leaps into the unknown, but basically I like all of you, will always want to keep hold of ‘the known’. Keep holding on to the familiar. I was reminded about myself, many years ago, leaving England and moving over to The Netherlands for my work. It was not far of course, just a leap across the North Sea. But I left my friends and family behind and plunged myself into a world at that time, where I did not understand the language, so I had to learn. That is a big criteria I think, to be with the people in another country, you have to make an effort. Oh my poor friend in Japan, that is really a daunting project, but I know they will. I actually asked them to. To be open for every single thing that crosses their path, everything, no holding back, be free to do just that.

Do I regret my choice all those years ago? No. I have grown a lot since then and continue to grow all the time. Each and every single contact with other people helps me this way. Some more than others, this particular friend a lot.

But answering the question back in the chat was not as easy as I thought. Why? I really have no answer apart from the word ‘familiarity’. Would I dare to make a similar move, I think so. Would I dare to change my world completely and do something totally different? I think so, but at the same time, what about my ‘safe and secure’. Would I, would you, dare to make a move to leave everything literally behind? If you could then become an even better version of yourself.

All through my life I know that choices we make influence our life path, how we are actually standing in life, where we live, who we are with just everything. Could you imagine making a choice, walking out of your door, closing it shut firmly and moving into something completely different? Could you?

Its food for thought isn’t it? I am really interested to hear your comment, so please add one and I will share on my feed.

So back to the question:

‘This is what I have become, but could I have become or been more, if I would dare’.

What is your answer?

For my friend: Muchas gracias J ! You are very brave and I know everything will work out perfectly.

I cannot resist adding this image, as this is one of the ‘best known phrases’ (he who dares … wins’)  to all British people who remember the great comedy : Only Fools and Horses.

Image: Google Images and of course to David Jason, a wonderful actor who has delighted us with so many really funny roles over the years.

COMING SOON ……

All of a sudden a lot of new attention for a book I wrote in 2017 entitled THE BLUE HOUSE.

This week I am going to be busy splitting the book into 20 sections of 2 chapters per section. I am going to offer the first two chapters again for free to read (for those of you who have not already done so). Then you can read on. Many of you have asked me questions like: ‘what happens next?’ So this is the reason for splitting the book down.

Each section contains two chapters. This will be offered through the creative platform UHMI (the small blue triangle at the bottom right hand corner of my page) which means that you will be asked to pay to read on…. and its easy too. You just create your own account with a log in name and password and you can pay simply by crediting your so called ‘wallet’). Anyone can do it!

This is a new concept with my books which are normally available on a website (bol.com) but a lot of my readers are definitely not in the catchment area for this site, so this seems a good way to offer the book to my readers. Keep watching this space. I am working on this right now. Coming soon……

Two of my other books: Fireflies in the Summer (and other short stories) and A Second Chance are also available through the UHMI platform for those of you who want to read more of my work.

PS

7th November 2018: Just a little update when you make an account with UHMI they are giving you a Euro 1 as a present! All you need to do is make an account, using your email, a password and log in.

 

 

Images: Lenia Roth (Google Images) & Quote from Junot Dias (Google Images)

 

 

NATURE IS SO BEAUTIFUL

A lot of you have been asking me to add more images and suchlike content to my posts so I thought I would share a series of photos I took on Saturday evening (3rd November). A really spectacular sunset, with amazing colours and there have been a number of similar posts on social media.

Enjoy!

Images: Private collection Jill Kramer (copyright). November 2018

Fireflies in the Summer & Other Short Stories

Chapter 1

As the car pulled away and she turned to wave back one more time, she could hardly believe it. Yes, they were on their way and how they had arranged this time away was still amazing. Well, to be perfectly honest, she had never in her wildest dreams imagined that she would have been able to pull it off with such panache. Ten days away. Ten whole days! First of all a long weekend away, with her best friend Daz and then the rest of the week away with her lover! God, her life was full of secrets these days and had been for the last six months. If anyone had asked her: what will you be doing in 6 months from now? She would have just tilted her head and answered: ‘the usual’.

She and Daz had known one another for a long time, but their deep friendship had begun after Lot has moved away. Then they suddenly realized all the missed chances over the years, because when they met sporadically these days, but the friendship had taken on new depths. They both were married and had grown up children now but in some of other way, despite their age difference, they had becomes best friends. ‘You know what we need?’ Daz would often say when they met up every three months of so, ‘we need a weekend break together, a couple of days to relax and just chat on, there is just never enough time and then when you have gone back, I realize how much I miss our face-to-face meetings. App’s are fine, but it is just not the same’. ‘Agree’ replied Lot but they just talked about it and then again the next time they met up.

One sunny morning Lot received an app from Daz: She wrote: ‘You know I have been droning on about a weekend away, well I HAVE to have a weekend away, do you think you can get away?’ Lot rang her back on Facetime, ‘what’s happened?’ she enquired. ‘Too much to chat about but how about this for an idea? We could go to a wellness centre and have a couple of days being totally pampered?’ Wow that sounded such a good idea and just what Lot felt she needed. ‘Where?’ she asked. ‘Well’ Daz said. ‘I was thinking about that amazing wellness/spa place in the south of the country and I just happen to know that there is a park nearby where you can hire a house for a long weekend and we could just fill our days and have the full package of treatments!’ ‘Sounds wonderful’ Lot replied.

Later that day she approached the subject with her husband who had just caught the end of the Facetime conversation. ‘Daz has asked me if I would like to go on a short holiday with her, troubles at home and she needs a break’. Surprisingly he agreed and said it would probably do her good, a bit of ‘girls only’ time and a break as she had been working really hard this year with several projects on the go at the same time. Immediately Lot’s brain started to think. What if she could combine the idea with a week away with her lover? What if she could find some way to combine the two? Meeting him was tricky (if near impossible) to say the least, but this might just open the door for her to arrange something. Anything just to mean that she could spend some time with him. Up until now their meetings had been brief, dinners out and a couple of times a night away, but apart from that it was all top secret and actually very complicated.

In the meantime Daz booked a lovely little cottage style house, easy walking distance from the wellness centre and they both spent a couple of days on Internet looking up what treatments were available and both made a list. They laughed out aloud when they had virtually chosen the same things and Daz made a simple phone call and booked them into two days of sauna’s, haman, scrub sessions, a dead sea mud experience, something called a chocolate rasul, (whatever that might be?) pedicure, manicure, facials and such like. The water at the spa came from a natural source deep in the ground and was renowned for the bubbles it had, like champagne, they joked. Daz had to keep to her rather strict diet, she had several food allergies, but Lot was so easy going on that score she was happy just to go along and not drinking alcohol or either eating anything apart from vegetarian food, was to her all part of this package.

Unbeknown to Daz, she had been busy making her own set of arrangements. After consulting her friend, she found the most amazing house to rent for the week and when she and Daz were on their own having their weekend she would tell her all about their relationship. It would be a relief actually, she thought to have someone to talk to about him, because up until now she had not told a single soul. Their relationship was delicate and because of the circumstances, not to mention the fact that she was married, made it even more complicated. She had met him unexpectedly a few months ago and it had been something really special right from the word go.

The drive down was easy and took about three hours. They found the little park close by and checked into their house for their stay. It was lovely, modern and clean, it would be perfect. They then had some lunch and did a bit of shopping, ready to step into their programme the following morning.

That evening after an easy meal, they weren’t very hungry after the large lunch, they talked and talked. Lot had given in and actually bought a couple of bottles of her favourite wine and they agreed that perhaps no alcohol this weekend was taking things a bit too far!

Daz started her story first. Lot knew her husband and also her two children and that Daz loved to travel and did so often with another friend. Lot was quite envious of her stories in the past, all the exotic places she visited and of course it was almost a foregone conclusion that at some time she would meet someone who stole her heart. Her marriage was similar to Lot’s, a sort of slur, a habit, a lot of memories, but the spark had been extinguished in some way or another.

It must have been the wine that made it easier to talk and Daz told her that she had met this amazing man one night on the beach. ‘I just looked at him’ she said ‘and knew, this man is something special’. Apparently they walked for hours along the shoreline, talking and talking. It was her second trip back to that country which had really started the ball rolling and together with another girlfriend, they had made very secret arrangements to meet up with these two men and spend a holiday with them.

‘God’ Lot thought. Daz continued and broke her thoughts. ‘He is just amazing’ she said ‘and my goodness they are so right about Latin lovers!’

Would you like to continue reading?

If you like this story and you would like to continue reading, please support me and buy this eBook for only €9.99 – Thank you, Jill

MORE THOUGHTS ON ROMANTIC SCAMMERS AND SUCH LIKE

I am afraid I have to write another blog for you all following on my recent one entitled “Scammers are Scumbags”.

Little did I know that my words would become a sort of trending topic/hype all over the globe. Not that I consider myself to be anything particularly special or that I wrote something magnificent, but my words certainly resonated with a lot of people.

Before I go on, a huge thank you to all of you who shared your stories with me, by email. My INbox was overflowing. Each and every story was so sad. I could resonate with a lot of things people said. I was glad that I shared my own personal story.

But out of all the negativity something always positive happens. My own contact with two people whose photos are stolen so much and used by these scammers.
Dr.Fernando Gomez Pinto, A Brazilian neurosurgeon and Thomas Lindegaarde Madsen, a Danish sea Captain working for Maersk.

I have sort of become ‘friends’ with them both in a positive and legit way. Sharing thoughts about this whole sorry saga.

Yesterday evening Thomas put out a poll via Facebook having received a really nasty comment from someone that it was his entire fault. WHAT?

Seriously, it is his fault!! I don’t think so. It prompted me of course to respond to the many comments on his page. The majority supported him but this morning I was shocked to learn that 37% of the people (women) said it was his fault. Come on get real everyone. It is not his fault at all!

Thomas is, in my mind just as much a victim, as those who are scammed by those using his photos. A really nice looking man, true, but someone with a good heart and a good job. In a happy relationship with his husband. Thomas has openly said he is homosexual and with a responsible job like his, does anyone reading this honestly think he has the time or the inclination to be chatting away on IG or whatever, asking for money, ITunes cards or making romantic approaches to people. No of course NOT.

People actually enjoy what he shares about his travels across the world and this should not be a reason for him to stop. So please don’t Thomas.

What shocked me most of all is how vicious people are in their comments and I wonder would they have actually said this to his face?

Look once and for all, to my mind, these scammers really have to be stopped.

Just by chance I saw a TV programme here in Holland about a lady who had been contacted in a similar way by a British man living in South Africa. She was conned out of 65.000 Euros. The TV followed her story and investigated. Her so-called romantic scammer was a man living in Accra, Ghana. In a pretty posh villa too with an expensive car on the drive. The TV crew under Police assistance tracked down this man and confronted him. I so wish you all could have seen his face when she removed her wig (for disguise) and said: ‘Do you know me now’? He looked as if he was about to die on the spot.
The Police arrested them all. Unfortunately she will never get all her money back, but she did get his car (worth about 10.000 Euros). So nice job.

This has to be a wake up call for all of you out there. Stop and think!

I looked at my own IG profile and it was quite shocking to see that my viewers over the past few weeks have been 50% males from Lagos, in Nigeria.
WAKE UP CALL BIG TIME.

So my new golden rule is, although I love to be on social media, mainly for my work and also for friends and such like, if I get any messages or requests and I am in any way suspicious is: A simple Golden Rule. Delete, Block, Report.
Simple as that.

Worried about missing out or losing friends? Don’t be. The genuine ones will get through to you.

Recently someone reacted to one of my posts about my hip replacement, a man in the USA who had exactly the same surgery a week before me and enquired simply, how I was getting on. We have talked together since then, and quite a lot, mostly via Whatsapp. This means exchanging phone numbers. A risk? Maybe. But my gut feeling about him right from the first message was that it was ok. It is and we chat once a week or so about things in general. He shared a photo with me of his family and I did the same. We have a lot in common and have said that to one another. So there is nothing wrong with that. Don’t succumb into thinking that EVERYONE has an ulterior motive. They DO NOT! Do not paint everyone with the same brush. There are some really lovely genuine people out there.

But for every good person, there are a lot of bad people. They have nothing better to do than sit behind their laptops chatting to people, making them a victim by saying nice things. Do you remember in my first blog I said: ‘Flattery will get you everywhere’. It does. If you are alone, feeling down and looking for attention, then you are the type of people they are looking for. Recently divorced, lost your partner because of illness, vulnerable. You are the ones they want to contact with. They will flatter your ego, fall in love with you and then the trouble begins, because you are taken in by it all. They ask for help in all sorts of guises, but it all comes down to the same thing: money. That is all they want. Nothing more. They are not looking for a long-term relationship, only money. In actual fact they do not give a damm about you personally.

So thank you everyone for everything you shared. It’s tough I know. But just be glad, if you read anything recently either from me, Fernando or Thomas, the sole purpose was TO SHARE AND MAKE PEOPLE AWARE.

Keep safe, if in any doubt: delete, block and report.

Keep your social media accounts safe. You can actually apply for a ‘verification status’ on IG. Look in your settings. I say apply, there is not a guarantee that you will actually receive. But try you can for sure.

Again and at the risk of keep repeating myself. If you have any doubt, do not enter into conversations with people you don’t know. Never send them money, gift or ITunes cards. No matter how sob the story is. Do not be enticed to send any details about yourself personally and never give ID or bank account details.

A little bit more awareness of what we all share on social media is all we  need to look at. We all do it. It is a sign of our times.

Unite and let’s all try and put a stop to this once and for all. They used to enter into our social media via Facebook Messenger. Now it’s Instagram. Or Dating Sites. Instagram is part of Facebook. So complain to Mark Zuckerberg! He is the CEO of Facebook. Make them take more care with our information. Be more secure. Or the alternative is that everyone deletes their accounts and he will certainly not want people to do that for sure!!

Lonely people being targeting by dangerous gangs of people. Take care.

Remember what I finished off my blog with last time:

Use your Head and not your Heart. Please for your own sake.

Special thanks to Fernando and Thomas for sharing thoughts with me about this and the attention it has received around the world. You are both very nice people. I am sorry for all of the horrid comments you both get sometimes, the blame people pass onto you. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Stand tall and know you are so much better than all of that. You both know you are good people with good hearts. That is all that matters. Clear the clutter aside.

And move on.

 

 

Image: from Google Images, source unknown

AS THE YEAR DRAWS TO A CLOSE …

This morning the first post I saw on Facebook was to remind me that it is now only 64 days until Christmas. 64 days!! No surely not? And if so where has the year gone?

Looking back I personally can only say that this year has been a year of absolute ‘highs and lows’ for me.

In some or other the way the year drawing to a close always becomes a moment of reflection for many reasons. For some there is a longing for the incredible weather we have had this year in the Netherlands. One of the hottest, sunniest and driest summers on record. And even though lots of us were complaining that it was too hot, we all enjoyed that ‘outdoors lifestyle’. This year actually planning a BBQ at the weekend was an absolute possibility.

However, nature has taken its toll. A lot of trees and shrubs have been starved of water. Normally there is a sufficient amount of rain in the year, but we sort of experienced the autumnal season here in the summer, because the leaves were drooping and eventually dying. To my surprise, we are having autumnal colours here at the moment; the remaining leaves are changing colour and dropping when it’s windy. But it is all going so fast.

Yes, the entire year has gone so fast. It only seems five minutes ago to me that it was Christmas 2017 and now the shops are stocking up and full of things for Christmas 2018. I always jokingly say that we should just leave our tree up and not bother taking it down, putting away all the decorations, but it seems as if time is literally flying. Is it because I am getting older, have there been so many things going on? Well on that score, I can answer a definite yes. 2018 has been quite a year for me personally and dominated by health issues, all of which I am happy to report are now solved.

But it has taken a lot out of me. Where I normally say to be people that ‘recovery’ is really my thing, it got harder. It got harder to keep on finding the inspiration to get up and go. I have no idea why? Maybe three operations in one single year were too much, but it just happened and on that score, it was for a good reason.

I often find that when the universe literally stops me in my tracks (and it is always a health issue that comes up), it is a sign for me that I have to stop and take note of something. An issue confirming that I am out of balance. I am not listening to my inner voice. Just tending to plod on with things, even though I may not agree with them anymore.

I have been involved in so called ‘spiritual issues’ right from the moment of my birth. So this is really nothing new for me. When the physical body and mind become out of balance, then the signs appear. It can be either small or big issues. From a simple headache to a total burnout. Or even worse.

What is to blame? Well there are so many reasons, I cannot even begin to write about them all, but the main reason is that these days we spend our lives in one big rush and we do not want to miss anything. We push ourselves to our absolute limits all the time and then eventually the physical body starts to show signs, telling, or more appropriately, warning you to make changes. Do we listen? Often not.

Society puts so many demands on us these days, we do not have time to move into the slow lane and evaluate.

Looking back on my year there have been some really surprising things. One of which is the end of a long friendship. It was really painful believe me. Having known someone for such a long time, shared so much and then to stand on the sidelines and watch them destroy their life, their partner, their family and all because they have been blinded by something so wrong. Despite all the good advice from every corner, they became totally blinkered to the truth and have made a path of destruction. It made and still makes me sad. There is nothing you can do.

Having watched this happen during my periods of recovery, it showed me that there is something we, as humans, are all craving for. More Love. Love is a really big key issue. Or rather the lack of it.

How often have you been confronted in situations where you have been left standing there flabbergasted by the way someone treated you? Many times? Yes, be honest I bet there is not a single person reading this blog who is not nodding their head in agreement. There is so much lack of tolerance these days between people. We are so focused on material possessions and this has become a total status symbol on how we stand in life.

Important are things like gadgets, homes, cars, jobs, positions, how high are you up the ladder and more important how high did you set the bar for yourself. We no longer seem satisfied with simple things in life. Everything has to be big and major.

As we make our way up to Christmas, the so-called season of ‘goodwill and joy to all mankind’ it is almost laughable. The way we treat fellow human beings these days leaves a lot to be desired. Tolerance? A huge lack of. Kindness? Ditto.

What is going wrong in the world and when does it stop. Literally billions of money is poured into the most ridiculous things. One of my big pet issues at the amount is the money, for example, football players receive in transfers. Oh come on; it is sport! Football is just kicking a ball around a pitch and yes I will say, you have to be fit, if you play for national and international teams, and yes then you have your own self-worth, but this is totally over the top these days.

Billions are poured into warfare. The most lucrative business ever. Why not spend the money building up nations and countries, which have been reduced to rubble. Helping the never-ending stream of asylum seekers in their own country. Ensuring that each and every individual on this planet has the very basic needs. Is that so much to ask?

2019 is going to be a ‘3’ year (just add up the numbers) 12, which reduces yet again to the 3. Three is the first number of the universal building blocks. Sacred Geometry. Sacred Geometry is in everything. The tetrahedron (or triangle). That is maybe food for thought! Maybe it is time to start re-building. Not only our personal lives, but lives of everyone sharing this planet with us. Remove the weeds, plant new seeds.

Set new goals, in all walks of life. Personal or otherwise.

It is time everyone, believe me, we cannot continue on this roller coaster ride. It is time to make change. So maybe if you, like me, think my goodness only 64 days to Christmas, the end of 2018 and into the New Year of 2019, then have a really serious think. What can you do yourself to bring change? What can you do to ensure that there is more love in the world? What can you release that no longer serves any purpose for you. Do you really need all these material possessions? Be honest. I know that I do not. There is really in this world one thing that money cannot buy and that is health.

We need to respect our bodies more, if we do not respect ourselves, how on earth can we respect others? Think about this.

All images from Google Images.

POSSIBLE PROBLEMS ON INSTAGRAM

Hi everyone,

A little note from me which is a bit off topic from my usual posts. For those of you following my feed you will have seen that I recently wrote a blog entitled “Scammers are Scumbags’. This blog has gone viral ALL OVER THE WORLD! Why? Well I will tell you…read on please.

Like many of us these days and certainly people who are connected on all social media, my blog caught the attention of many people. I also shared it with two of the victims who photos are stolen by scammers and used in false accounts: Dr. Fernando Gomez Pinto (who I mentioned in my blog) and Thomas Lindegaard Madsen, a Danish ship’s captain working for Maersk.
Over the past few weeks since the blog was published my own Instagram account has been inundated with requests from people who want to follow me. Yes, I am perfectly happy with that and grateful that they enjoy my work. I get literally hundreds of emails and comments on my blogs every day and I share them (well the majority of them) in the feed so that others can read, especially when people ask questions or need help.

It must have been this that had an effect on my own Instagram account. Every day lots of new followers and lots of messages. I knew almost immediately that they were fake. Some using the photos of Dr. Fernando GM or Thomas L Madsen. They always begin with the words: ‘Hi’, Hi pretty’, ‘how are you?’ Also most accounts are a combination of names and numbers.

My own Instagram is JillianKramer12. A number too. This is purely the number of the house where I live and I have used this also for my website and email. The number has a special meaning for me, as it makes the 3, the first universal number, the first sacred geometrical shape, a triangle or tetrahedron. Nothing more than than.

Recently Dr. Fernando GM made a declaration on Instagram, talking live in his own language Portugese and also in English, about this subject and many  people reacted to it. Including me (albeit in a private message to him). It is good that we joined forces with one another and as a team work towards stopping these people.

You may remember I did say in my blog ‘flattery will get you everywhere’. It makes you feel good when someone compliments you. No one wants to be rejected. No one.

But it is really important that you do use your head and not your heart if they contact you. Recently I have reported a lot of these fake accounts to Instagram. How? Well block their message and report as Spam. Instagram will confirm back to you that this has been done because these fake accounts are in violation of their rules and guidelines. Account holders will not see anything, this is completely anonymous. So don’t worry.

It makes me really sad that people can be taken in by all this. Watch for the tell tale signs: often there are little mistakes in the English, they always are divorced, widowed, lost their partner to a deathly disease, they are alone, looking for a new relationship with commitments. Also there is always a child involved, who needs help, money for medical attention. Fantasy stories and believe me they sound so pitiful that people actually begin to believe them. They fall in love with you fast, send you lovely romantic messages and it makes you feel good. Really !!

I have noticed through a lot of the emails and comments I have received that everyone is ‘waking up’. People are being honest, like me, saying that they were completely taken in by these scammers. The scammers themselves are usually located in places like West Africa, The Middle East, India and these are teams of well trained ruthless groups, behind laptops. Be careful, they have worldwide connections.

They want only one thing and that is money or some form of card like iTunes. Don’t fall for it, so people give too many details, get stuck in their web of lies. Stop! Think! Do not do anything other than delete and report them. Do not send anything to anyone you do not know personally.

If you suggest a online video chat they will come up with an excuse, the favorite being that they are in a dangerous war zone and cannot be online. They will ask you to go to Google Hangouts. Don’t! Ask for your email. Do not give it!

I am very grateful to both Dr Fernando GM and Thomas L Madsen for also giving attention to this subject. Both of them are also on Instagram but their accounts have been marked with a ‘small blue tick’ (by Instagram) that they are the genuine person. Anything else than that, just delete. Do not be taken in.

Combining together contributes to change and stopping these people. Believe me they will come up with something else. But in the meantime, be warned. Take care. Stay Safe.

Never fall for their stories, however genuine they may sound. Keep your own passwords and accounts safe. Change passwords regularly. Hackers and scammers are very clever.

A very special thank you for all of you who wrote emails and comments to me. You are brave and by being honest and telling people, sharing your own story in your own social circles. The more attention this gets, the more we can stop it. Together. As a worldwide team, irrespective of our languages.

USE YOUR HEAD AND NOT YOUR HEART !!!