Well here we are, on the platform at Telford.
It’s not the best in the world but it’s ours. We are, that is my wife Edith and I,
awaiting the arrival of the train to begin our journey to Sheffield and the Hilton hotel where the 2014 TAFN CAMEO is to be held.
This is, I think, the second time it’s been held in Sheffield and from all I have heard from the last visit it was brilliant.
Ok, that is the Telford to Birmingham part done and we are being taken across the station at New Street to the platform we need and the station is heaving.
Up in one lift down in another, across this platform and across that platform, gees had we done this alone we would still be in the station.
The train pulls in and we mount up. As we settle in we hear a familiar voice back down the carriage, its Ian Mac chatting away to someone we don’t know.
We are pleasantly surprised that the journey took so little time, and as we make our way out of the station we are surprised to find it so busy, why we should be surprised is beyond me.
Finally we hook up with the transport, i.e. Teresa P and co and we are escorted to the minibus where we all settle in ready to push off for the hotel.
Here I have to add that at this point I was very excited, Lilian Stubbs sat next to me who is one of my dearest friends and with the other few close friends it makes the trip so much more enjoyable.
On our arrival we are dealt with quickly and efficiently and off we go to our room.
Its a lovely place and the rooms are excellent, we settle in like home.
Meeting up with friends is always great but in this sort of atmosphere it was electric. There was Katie and Brian, Mike with Chrissie, Mark and Linda were there also their voices so distinct. Of course there were those I had never spoken to, those who never seem to be on the Communicator but with luck we will learn about them.
After much wondering we find ourselves out on the huge patio sitting chatting with oh Lord I can’t think of everyone, it was so good.
The time just flew past and the next thing it was time for dinner and to hopefully sit with friends which we managed very well. The meal went well and the chat was still buzzing, picking up voices of people in the room.
One of the biggest buzz’s I got was the fact that there were so many absolutely beautiful and well behaved guide dogs.
In such a tight area one could forgive them if they got tetchy but none of it, they were wonderful.
After dinner we retired to the sitting area where we were joined by Sal and John and from then on the place rang with such laughter, the gang of us i.e. my wife Edith, myself, Lilian and Bill with Nardia, John and Sal with his gide dog, Michael and Chrissie, it was just so good I wish we could do it every month, smile.
Of course everything comes to an end so at silly oclock we all retired to bed anxious for the next day.
My reunion with John P was just an amazeing time, I may if I ever meet up with you new member or guest tell you the story of the John P Tony B first ever handshake. Bbut its a little too riskey to tell here.
Saturday 6th September 2014.
Breakfast was a busy affair. We sat around the table I think it was with Michael and Chrissie but there was such an atmosphere of buzzing voices people laughing and the whole scene a mass of happy friends to remember all.
Today Edith and I were going out with some friends we had met in Cyprus. They lived in Sheffield and offerd to come and take us out to show us the place they call Meadow Hell!
This is the most scarey place I have ever been as a blind person, the size of the hall had no depth to be heard, sort of like an enormous empty cavern, with no feeling of end in sight.
On our return we found folks out on the patio enjoying the sun which was a wonderful bonus and again lots of us gathered to laugh have fun and generally pass time in good company.
After being there a while, we were joined by others and so the group grew. Don’t ask what we chatted and laughed about, that would be an impossible question to answer and enough to say that we parted to shower and change for dinner.
Again dinner passed with the sound of chatter and laughter, it was believe it or not so loud one could hardly hear ones neighbour.
This evening we sat with Katie and Brian, Michael and Chrissie, Catherine and Lee as well as June C. and her guest who I have to appologise for not knowing.
After supper we again retired to the sitting area where yet again the night was passed in great joviality.
There was to be a quiz in the dining room but both Edith and myself were there to visit with friends that we talk to on the Communicator so the quiz slid on past us and those we sat with.
then as before the hours raced past and it was again time for us to depart at the silly hour for bed. Next day we, that is many of us were off on a canal trip which we were very much looking forward to.
Sunday 7th September 2014.
I won’t bore you with yet another discription of breakfast, and will push on to the aftermath.
Those that were going on the canal barge trip formed up in the hotel lobby and we moved off, even now we were like so many school kids out on a nature ramble, but it was so good.
We arrived on foot at the loading area of the barge only to be told that some young people had pulled down some building scaffold and dumped it in the canal so that we had to wait for clearance before we could embark.
I really don’t know who arranged the trip but I was so thankful for that, I love canal boats and found this one even more interesting than some of the previous trips we have been on.
Again I won’t go into detail as there is a recording on the site of the trip that will give you more of an idea than my waffleings.
Needless to say the trip didn’t stop us from cracking funnies, making observations, i.e. via our sighted guides, and those that wanted drinks had them those who didn’t just became enthralled in the whole trip.
On our return we disembarked again like a bunch of school kids full of beans and devilment.
As like the day before we went into lunch full of the joys of life and if I never go to another CAMEO this one will always be in my heart and mind. I remember thinking as we ate, listening to those I knew who were chatting around us, what can a person want more, good friends a good atmosphere and still the eveing to go.
It may seem to the reader that all we did was sit about laughing etc – well we did we chatted, we laughed, we met up with those we hadn’t seen since last CAMEO and the day wore on.
Dinner again, and as we gathered, there was an air of mystery, we had been hinted to that there was something special on tonight after we ate that is.
But before we had finished, a group of musicians set up and began to play and play very well.
We sat and listened for 25 to 30 minutes and then left to again sit in the sitting area. Now this might seem ungrateful to the reader that someone, namely Shirley Grant, had gone to so much trouble to arrange the band and here we were sitting in the sitting area laughing, joking and just enjoying each others company, but we weren’t being ungrateful the initials C A M E O say it all,
come and meet everyone and that is what we did or to the best of our ability.
Before I go on and end my long winded acount, I have to add here that none, absolutely none of our CAMEO’s would ever work, would never run smoothly without the dedicated and wonderfully helpful carers that are always on hand from dog duty to table duty. They are as big a part of the enjoyment at a CAMEO as the meeting of friends and I would just like to now thank them all and I will not list names for that would I feel be unfair as I may miss some, but just enough to say to them all from the bottom of our hearts we thank you all for making our CAMEO’s such a wonderful and enjoyable event.
Out on the patio we were gathered, Lilian, Bill, Chrissie, Michael, Martin, Julie and of course two guide dogs.
Now we have had reasonable weather and apart from a tad of rain on Saturday all has been fine. That is why we found ourselves on the patio but it wasnt so warm now for some reason.
Tonight was going to be our last night but boy was it special ,all of us that is those above plus myself and Edith, were gathered around a couple of tables on the patio and it was a little nippy.
We that is all except Chrissie, Michael and Bill were soaking up the evening while the rest of us were a little dithery.
Chrissie and Michael sat with coats on, Bill stood and soon we were to find out why. Above the tables on the sun brolly’s
there were heaters and Bill had found out how to energise his and so the plot began, smile.
We dithered Bill didn’t and so when he went off for drinks I took his position and oh how lovely and warm I became lol.
But it was all over to soon and weary and well full of food and alcahol we padded off to bed not before some of us had won prizes on the raffle it really couldn’t get better.
We all went off to bed.
Monday 8th September 2014.
This morning we are to eat in the hotels main dining room and we did with gusto.
I have to say the breakfasts were ample and delicious so much so that I had to watch my appetite, smile.
After breakfast we resumed our places on the patio to await our departure to the various parts of the UK, Holland, Ireland, etc.
One by one people left until it came to our turn and oh how sad it was and even though I knew we would meet up on the Communicator those of us who got home in time that is,
it was still a heart wrenching time.
It was our turn to go so off we went to the railway station to catch our train. There were several of us going around the same time but to different areas so the final goodbye’s were to be at the station.
And so it ended the 2014 Sheffield CAMEO. I must add a footnote here for those who may read this and are thinking of membership. Until I joined TAFN I spent most if not all my time alone with my computer, dog and wife but since joining TAFN my life has become full, I am doing things on and with TAFN that six years ago i.e. 2008, I would never have dreamed of, and its all down to TAFN and those wonderful people I am so proud to call friends. I thank you all and I thank the various CAMEO teams for all their hard work and those amazingly wonderful carers and helpers who make it all so much more pleasureable.
I hope this hasn’t been too much of a bore for you to read through and I am sorry that there is not more detail, the weekend flew past so much, so many, that all flowed into one.
Tony B, very proud member of TAFN.