Tuesday, April 7, 2020

LET'S TALK ABOUT TEDDYBEARS

When people pass by our front window, they are often tempted to look in, well that's what I thought they were doing, but I know think, because of the reflection, they are treating our front window as you would a shop window, to check on their own reflection. 

Anyway, that has nothing to do with why I have have put all my teddybears and friends in the window. They are there to bring a smile - and they have. The notices are cards sent to me by our neighbour's little girl (sweet) to say stay safe. 

From left to right: Barnsleyted, (he's the biggest bear I have, given to me by my granddaughter's quite a few years ago), Gatapus (the cat) came from Crete, he must wonder where he's landed, next is Luckyted, he's a little grey bear bought from a couple of kids who were having a garden sale to raise a bit of money. Squirrel is just poking out behind Luckyted, and next is Huggleted (he's the nursey bear that I hung on to when I was in hospital a couple of year's ago). Miss Prim with the pink ribbons was given to me by a good friend who knows I just love poodle type doggies. Behind Miss Prim, in the dark, is Dumbleted, the wizardywitch bear who enjoys halloween. Next to Miss Prim is Hector, he belongs to David really (I'm not the only crazy one in this house) and lastly Hazzo, who is a dumpling of a softy dog rescued from a cardboard box destined for the rubbish. Lastley, hanging in the centre of the window are miniature Pooh Bear and friends who were the delight of our grandson, Jack, and I couldn't possibly part with them.

The bears: Barnsleyted, Luckyted, Huggleted and Dumbleted have one other friend, Susan, she is the doll which was given to me when I was about seven years old, and who I have treasured all my life. Susan is a little reclusive and refused to sit in the window. 

Like I said, my window display has brought many a smile from passers by, and that is just what I wanted to  see, a smile on the faces of otherwise very serious people in the street. On that one trip out of the house for exercise or to walk to the shop, people can look at my bears and smile.

I'm not really going mad in this lockdown, but I must say a few hidden eccentricities are surfacing. I have taken to walking to the bottom of the garden and back 50 times a day (just over half an hour) which in itself may look very odd to the neighbours, but I can assure you it is well worth the effort to help keep body and soul together, and I have started knitting fingerless gloves with the odds and sods of wool that were left over from past projects.

No matter how much I talk about teddybears, the real world is out there, and there is no escaping the reality of the moment. The news that the Prime Minister was taken into hospital on Sunday really upset me, and yesterday he was put into intensive care. News is that he is stable and not in need of a ventilator, so all we can do is send him good wishes for a speedy recovery, and of course, offer up a prayer to that end. Dear God give Boris Johnson the strength to fight this virus. And God, please help all those who are suffering, and all those who are working to help alleviate the suffering. 

The whole world is in a right pickle at the moment, please stay inside your home as much as you can, dear reader, and stay safe.

Love and hugs,
Jane x

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

HUNKERED DOWN IN BIRDWELL

Got to keep fit
 It is really important in these dark days, to keep fit. We have the exercise bike, and we have a garden large enough to run around. So we have no need to leave the house except for food. Today we made our weekly trip to Aldi up the road, and we got enough supplies to keep us going for at least another week.
David's little greenhouses
We have both been keeping busy, David has been in the garden, and I have been in the kitchen. So we should have a few veggies sprouting in a couple of months, and a good supply of ginger biscuits.

I have also penned a short poem, but in the main I have not wanted to put pen to paper, preferring the more mundane tasks, cooking, cleaning, and of course the knitting needles are out again. General concentration has gone out of the window, but I am trying to keep some semblance of sanity. The magnanimity of this crisis tends to come over me in waves, one day I'm OK, the next I'm on the verge of tears, but generally David and I are coping well with isolation.

As I write the number of deaths in the UK stands at 1,789 that is up 381 from yesterday. Most of these deaths are in London, but there have been a few (3) in Barnsley.

It is hard to look on the bright side, but my neighbours little girl popped a card through the letterbox which she had made to say, stay safe, and today a picture of a rainbow arrived to put in the window. And not only that, my daughter-in-law left strawberries and a small bottle of prosecco on the doorstep. That brought a smile.

So, as ever, my message to you is the same - Stay Safe! I'll be back next week with an update, meanwhile here is my poem, it's serious, but then so is this worldwide crisis.


Covid 19

The weeks go by and people die,
death has become a game of tag,
don’t let it touch you; dodge its hand,
outrun its pace, do what you can;
don’t let death be the catcher-man:

the catcher-man, the catcher-man,
he’s out to get you if he can.

Refuse to play death’s ugly game,
retire, retreat, re-map and plan,
don’t let death have the upper hand,
turn on the foe, make fast your stand;
don’t let death be the catcher-man:

the catcher-man, the catcher-man,
he’s out to get you if he can.

Outstep death’s shadow; slip its grip,
be clever, use your well honed wit,
don’t let death decimate our land,
humanity must make a stand;
don’t let death be the catcher-man:

the catcher-man, the catcher-man,
he’s out to get you if he can.

Be full of hope, the world is strong,
each person must now play a part,
don’t let death make undue demands,
heed every government command,
stay safe! Let's beat the catcher-man.


With love and lots of virtual hugs,
Jane x







Tuesday, March 24, 2020

AUNT MARTHA GOES LIVE!





It's been a strange week for everyone. As you can see from the above video, I indulged myself in a little entertainment to while away an hour or so. Aunt Martha is definitely out of the closet. And to cap it all she got an airing on BBC Radio Sheffield's Upload programme last Thursday night in the form of Aunt Martha's Lenten Quest.


Aunt Martha’s Lenten Quest 

Aunt Martha listened to Reverend Jon,
His sermon was all about Lent,
How you should give up something or other,
She thought she knew just what he meant.

She decided a just deprivation,
Would be bread, cakes, biscuits and scones,
And the money sh’d save in the process,
She’d donate towards the church funds.

That Sunday Aunt Martha invited us
Round - Aunt Polly, my mum and me -
To discuss what sacrifice we could make.
And of course, stay for Sunday tea.

I liked having tea at Aunt Martha’s house,
She always put on a fare spread,
So imagine the face I had on me,
To be given boiled ham but no bread!

I’d have brought you a loaf, said Aunt Polly,
If you’d let me know you were short,
‘I’m not short,’ said Aunt Martha, ‘abstaining,’
‘cos we’ve got a church to support.

She rattled a tin and put it beside
The ham, ‘there, that’s a start,’ she said,
That’s money I would’ve spent on a loaf,
Now it’s going to t’ church instead.

The next forty days proved disastrous,
As we gave up all we liked best,
Even mum got a little bit thinner,
In aide of Aunt Martha’s quest.

Aunt Polly saw Uncle Stanley in town,
He was outside Jo’s Caf. in Brook street,
‘Our Martha’s carrying this thing too far,
Half rations, it’s not flippin’ reet.

A man could starve wi’out biscuits and cakes,
She’s taken all t’ joy out o’ living,
All she does is rattle her blessed tin,
She insists, ‘All the joy’s in the givin’.’

‘There’s nowt in me packing but fruit,’ he moaned,
‘My tum’s getting thinner and thinner,
I’d love some roast beef and Yorkshire pud.,
I’m off into Jo’s for my dinner.’

After a week he was moping about,
He could hardly keep up his head,
‘Martha, I’m feeling reet hungry,’ he begged,
‘Please, gi’ us a slice o’ bread.’

Aunt Martha was shocked, but quite resolute,
Uncle Stanley’s request was ignored,
‘No,’ she said firmly, ‘it’s LENT, do wi’out,
And put all your faith in the Lord.’

The days went by, Uncle Stanley fell ill,
He took to his bed, moribund,
‘Tha ’s purged me soul lass, I’m off to my grave,
Here’s two and six for the fund.’

Well of course, Uncle Stanley didn’t die,
Easter Sunday brought out the best;
Aunt Martha was over the moon with joy
At her successful Lenten quest:

She took the money to Mr McGoo,
Who entered it into accruals,
Uncle Stanley had suffered for twenty-two pounds,
It went for repairs and renewals.


I suppose it's a silly question to ask what you have given up for Lent, as the population of Britain is in the process of giving up so much to try to combat this horrendous virus. It makes the little things seem pathetically insignificant, as we are all concentrating so hard on our survival. I'm not going to say anything else about this because I'm sure your up to your overgrown fringe with the gory details of Covid 19.

Let's be positive! I am getting creative in the kitchen to help eke out the food, and David has turned into a carpenter, and has built a little greenhouse out of some old windows. Life at home is quite enjoyable really. No rushing about to catch buses, no worrying we might be having visitors and the living room hasn't been polished for a week, no work, it's like being on holiday - well not quite.

As for exercise, we are sorted - the exercise bike is out of the shed.

And we've got our own coffee shop, well, maybe not always coffee.

No Stress!

I likes my cider!
















So, week one of isolation was not too bad for us, and I hope it wasn't too bad for you either. Keep safe dear reader, wherever you are. The next few weeks are not going to be easy for anyone, we are all in this together, let's send this virus packing. Stay at home, and if you have to go out stay at least 2 meters (6ft) away from the next person. Here's a virtual hug, and if you are a key worker, here's an extra special hug and a big thank you for being on the front line.

I'll be back next week, God willing.

Lots of love to all,
Jane x

Monday, March 16, 2020

HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY TALK!

Hello dear reader,
I woke up this morning with a smile on my face due to the fact that I was singing the song, Happy Talk from the King and I. It was, I'm sure, a subconscious attempt to keep me thinking happy thoughts in the middle of all the doom and gloom of coronavirus.

Happy talk, keep talking happy talk
Talk about things you'd like to do.
You gotta have a dream
if you don't have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?
Of course I had my own words in my dream, which I don't remember now, but I realise the actual words to the first verse of this song are a great up-lifter. First of all we have all got to start talking about happy things. Our imagination is a wonderful thing and it can take us to all sorts of places. 'Talk about things you'd like to do' - well, the list is endless. And the bit about, 'if you don't have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true,' is spot on. Well, I'm dreaming about getting through this next three or four months (hopefully no longer) and, victorious, celebrating with the whole world a return to functioning society. Let's all dream the same dream. Don't forget: HAPPY TALK, KEEP TALKING HAPPY TALK!
David is over 70, and I'm almost there, so we have decided to self isolate as much as possible. We are lucky in the fact that we have a garden to enjoy the fresh air in. Our plan is to take a walk in the countryside most days, keeping a safe two meter distance from anyone else we may encounter. We know this is going to be a long few months.
I have food in for about two weeks, and toilet rolls (though the supermarket shelves are emptying fast after every delivery), and I did manage to get two handbag sized hand sanitisers, from the chemist. 
We have books earmarked to read, and I will be writing the odd poem or two, I should think. Speaking of which, some really happy news - BBC Radio Sheffield rang me today to say they were going to air my recording of Aunt Martha's Lenten Quest, on Thursday 19 March (this Thursday) on The Vibe, an arts programme, 7 - 9 p.m. So, a little success to brighten the day. Apparently they are going to interview me as well.
Meanwhile, Barnsley Writers, who I joined last week for the first time, have suspended meetings, but we shall be given writing tasks via their facebook page. I will not be short of things to do, that's for sure.
Who would have thought we would all have been in this situation? 'HAPPY TALK, KEEP TALKING HAPPY TALK' In the interest of comedy I have been working on a new monologue. Watch this space!
And while I'm pen in hand, David is busy trying to do up a couple of bicycles that were destined for the tip, and he's been tidying the garden - we've got some lovely daffodils.
It will all be over by Christmas! 

Keep Safe dear reader, I'll be back next week, God willing, with an update of isolation in Birdwell.
Love and Hugs,
Jane x 

Monday, March 9, 2020

BALLROOM DISAPPOINTMENT

So, March 2nd had been in my diary for over a month. Not least because in was the 45th anniversary of losing my wonderful mum, but it was also the eagerly awaited date of our first ballroom dancing class, in Barnsley.

Thinking ourselves perky pensioners to be braving the evening air (freezing air), David and I caught the 7.30 p.m. bus, in chirpy mood, with feet ready to at least try to waltz us around the floor.

We walked from the bus station the twenty minutes distance to the hall where we had been told to congregate, thinking the exercise would do us good, as indeed it did. But alas, when we arrived there was no sign of a dancing class, or any other sort of class, and banquet tables were being set up in the hall. Our attempt to join an evening activity had fallen flat. We walked back into town and filled the half hour before our bus home, laughing over a glass of beer, at our disappointing evening. 

There has been no mention of trying again tonight, neither David nor I want a repeat performance of last Monday evening. And it's cold outside.

I spent the most of last week both reading and writing. Aunt Martha has reared her head again, this time in the form of a monologue. As to what I was reading, well Harry Potter, The Philosopher's Stone has been polished off, and a short novel by Muriel Spark, The Driving Seat - a very strange story about a murder. That's all I'm going to say, because I don't want to spoil the plot if you haven't read it. My only advice is, do not read the introduction first, because it gives away the plot - not good. I did enjoy the read though.

This week I have been taking a look at Characterisation, and how I can improve my technique in that direction. My next read is, The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud - just a bit of light reading (I doubt), but I am sure to learn something.

Our son arrived for a surprise visit, which was lovely, and we spent an evening of chat. I'm glad the weather was fine and not too windy, because he turned up on the scooter he has been doing up. I should have taken a photo when he arrived in the daylight, but the night-time picture gives him a certain nightriderness.

Oh, and here is the video of me tossing a pancake (I know, thrilling) I missed getting on last week.

Nightrider Sharp

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As for world news, it's all a bit grim at the moment with this Coronavirus spreading all over the place. People are stocking up on provisions and the supermarket's are running out of stuff like toilet rolls - though the shelves are being restocked pretty quickly. I did take the last tin of Morrisons Drinking chocolate, yesterday (yes blame me). The fear is a mass lockdown, which has to be considered as Lombardy in Italy has been completely locked down, as well as other parts of Italy.

The latest statistic for people with the virus in Britain, is 319, two reported in Barnsley. This is expected to rise drastically over the next week and the Government is expected to announce measures for enforced isolation of anybody who is showing the symptoms, which are fever, cough, respiratory problems. Yes, it is a bit worrying!

So, trying to think of something more cheery, the full moon tonight may herald a change and happy days ahead. The daffodils are out in our garden, together with a few snowdrops, and Spring is in the air.

Keep safe, keep washing your hands, and keep reading my blog for weekly updates. And if you want to stock up on reading matter, there is always Jane Sharp, Amazon. And now it's time for tea.

Love and hugs,
Jane x 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

WELL FLIP MY PANCAKE!

O Happy Week! Pancake day on Tuesday mid all the turmoil of decorating the front room. Nothing stops tradition! I do have a small video of me flipping a pancake, but unfortunately it's on David's phone and I haven't worked out how to get it on this blog. Maybe next time. Rest assured every one of my 8 pancakes was well and truly flipped.

And look who was in the shed this week. Yes, our Barnsley Bard, Mr Ian MacMillan as painted by me. We actually ran out of alcohol this Friday, so finished off the Christmas mulled wine and then abandoned the shed for warmer surroundings, i.e. our front room. Desperate measures!
And in the Art House this week, Ian MacMillan

English/Greek flags 

Art work - Empty Cans!

A hint of blue
 And after a week of painting and decorating we have our new look living room. 
Reading room



The Music Corner


David's Mum


New curtains

















It's been a busy week but we are pleased with the result. I'm not a natural paper hanger, and I'm glad I wasn't doing the whole room with wallpaper, but it's a half decent job for a pensioner. David pasted and I applied, we're a good team. The bedroom next - but not tomorrow.

Well, the news is full of Corona Virus and how it is spreading across the world. It is a wee bit disconcerting, but what will be, will be, we can't stop living. We can however be vigilant and do all we can to prevent the spread - washing hands well after travelling on the buses etc. The TV reports from China and South Korea are distressing, and our Government is making plans in case there is an epidemic here in England. So far about 20 cases, but people are dying, mainly over 70 with health problems already. I'm thinking of starting a little food-bank in case I have to stay in the house for days on end. 

The good news! Boris, our Prime Minister is to be a father again. And he has popped the question so a wedding is on the cards. Always good for the press of the world.

Floods everywhere are causing havoc but according to the weather forecast, there are dryer days ahead, just cold. It's been the wettest February on record. There is a lot to be said for living on a hill.  Our garden is fairly sodden though.

I have entered my short story into the Barnsley Writers' competition. I honestly don't expect to win (call me negative) but it has been submitted.

We are to have another open mic in Elsecar, at the Milton pub, in May (details to follow). Something to look forward to.

It's St David's Day today, so I suppose if we were in Greece it would be David's name day. Do I make him a cake? I think I will.

So, that's my week, I think I'll have a cupa now before cleaning the bathroom (David has just been up there trimming his beard) - woman's work and all that.

I wish you a very good week ahead, keep healthy and happy. I'll be back next week with an update of my comparatively boring life. 

Love and Hugs,
Jane x





Monday, February 24, 2020

BIRDWELL PAINTERS AND DECORATORS

The great cover up!
Hello Everyone from Birdwell Painters and Decorators,

Yes, the long awaited re-decoration of the living room is upon us. Even I braved the steps, paintbrush in hand, and together with David got stuck in. It will probably take us a few days to finish it, especially as we haven't yet bought the gloss paint for the cupboards etc, so watch out for pics of the finished thing. We settled on Misty White for the walls, with a very plush, navy blue with gold glints wallpaper for each side of what would have been the fireplace. David did all the scraping off of loose plaster and filling in job, while I sandpapered the paintwork and washed it all down - team work. I might even splash out and buy new curtains.

It has to get bad before it gets better
To be honest, the whole day was quite therapeutic, and I'm looking forward to another such, tomorrow.

As to what else I was occupied with last week, well - I set about writing a short story, which I have finished, and am rather pleased with. I also picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone from Aldi £3.49 and am about half way through it. (And yes, I am enjoying it even though the print is a little small for my eyesight).

Actually, I've really overspent this week, what with wallpaper, paint, a new paint roller, etc not to mention a replenishment of my favourite night cream from Boots at £15 (on offer), and not forgetting my Harry Potter book. It looks like we may be on half-rations next week, still, that might be good for us.

Friday was a little breezy, but since when did the weather put us off our Friday date - Shed Night! 

Storm Dennis has certainly caused a lot of flooding, but we just got the wind -  nothing new there. I hope that you have been able to keep dry and have not suffered too much from the storms.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I uploaded a poem to BBC Sheffield, but don't seem to have had it accepted. I'm going to try again tomorrow. I've hit one of those, I don't really care who likes and who doesn't like what I write, because I'm quite happy just writing and painting, and humming to myself as I go about each day happily getting through life best I can, times. When I see all the stress, all the misery, all the unnecessary trials and tribulations of the world, I feel so lucky.

I did hear it was the Rhubarb Festival week last week, but even being so close the the Rhubarb capital of Britain, Wakefield, I was quite unaffected by any celebrations that may have been going on. 

It's Pancake Day tomorrow, that means it's Ash Wednesday, Petticoat Thursday and Kissing Friday - at least where I was brought up. And that can only mean that Lent is almost upon us. What shall I abstain from this year? I'll let you know my plan, next week.

Until next week then, have a stress free week if you can, eat lots of pancakes and enjoy the feast before the fast.

Bye for now,
Love and hugs,
Jane x

P.S.  David has come down with a terrible, snotty cold but he's soldiering on, Bless! Hope he doesn't give me it! And hope he leaves a bit of kitchen roll for the cook.


Monday, February 17, 2020

T.C.B. - TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS (THE BARNSLEY WAY)

Hi there,

Here it is, as promised, me unplugged! With thanks to Paul Athorne for trusting me with his monologue, T.C.B. "I know, sad." But if nothing else I am proud of myself for memorising all those words. Whatever next!

Now you know why I said in my last blog, 'see you the other side of... insanity!'

On the bright side, the evening was a huge success, organised as usual by Jeff Platts and the WSO (We Shall Overcome) organisation. The event was split into two halves with a beer break in the middle.

The 1st Half

Jethro Platts
Gladys Wainwright
Jo Waller
Simon Ibbitson
Kev Austin
Tedge & Beth

The 2nd Half

Lee Pollard
Diane Cleaver
Jo Brooke
Jane Sharp (Writer Paul Athorne)
Andrew Bart Hawkins
Jane Sharp
Billy Bywater

All the above came with words worth listening to, the programme was varied, ranging from light verse to some serious thought provoking stuff, and it was a privilege to be part of the event. Roll on the next one.

I'll be back next week with a round up of news in the hood. Till then, take care, keep warm and keep safe.

Love and Hugs,
Jane x

P.S. I'm reading Harry Potter this month, what about you? If you are looking for a bit of escapism you could always try Higgs Bottom (available on Amazon) click here

VALENTINE SPECIAL

Hello lovely readers,

I hope you all had a very HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! David and I celebrated with a glass of cider in the shed, followed by curried vegetables and rice - a Valentine Special!

We also had a midweek trip to Barnsley, Thursday, no market, it was a wee bit quiet but we picked up a few essentials and then had lunch in the Falco Bar, next to the library. That was quiet too, but we had a laugh, especially at the window decoration cum promotion cum I'm not really sure, of a lady about to either dive into the pool (none existent), or else the North Sea, a good two hour's away. Whichever, it put us in a jolly mood with David saying, 'I feel like I'm on holiday.' Maybe that is the reaction the widow dresser had in mind. We ordered three little dishes of tapas and larger to complete the mood:

Frighteningly funny! 


Brilliant little nibbles!
Storm 'Dennis' hit on Saturday/Sunday, but Birdwell is on hilly ground so we were safe from all the flooding. Apparently the river at Darfield came dangerously close to overflowing, but it seems like Wales and York got the worst of it.

After two days of rehearsing for my set at the Barnsley Spoken Word event on Sunday, I was ready for a relaxing evening and a cosy up. You will find the account of how the event panned out in my next blog, but you won't have to wait a week, it will be out as a simultaneous blog, right after this one.

So, if you are ready to see what I got up to yesterday, (Sunday), or if you just want a good laugh, read my next blog post.

See you on the other side of... (sanity)!
Love and Hugs,
Jane x

P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention, I've had another little success, I have had two poems accepted for the Voices of Change anthology, Sheffield, to be launched on 1st May. Yeah!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Unplugged in Doncaster

Hello everybody,

I do hope you have come through the storm without much damage. Ciara blew her way through Birdwell yesterday taking our garden fence with her, but luckily it will soon be repaired. We had a cosy-up day in the house listening to the wind and rain, reading and watching TV, it was the right thing to do, especially as we had been out and about in Doncaster on Saturday. And why were we there? Well, we'd seen on Facebook that there was an Unplugged session at the Brewery and Tap. It's a place we had never been to before, so it was bus pass out, and glad rags on.

We are so pleased that we made the effort. It was jolly, and a great environment with guitar music, song and recitation, and yes, I did join in.  Fun! fun! and that's what everyone needs. Here are a few pics:

We were lucky to get a seat.

Alison was having fun too.

While Ian was busy in the back making sure the brew was perfect.

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Now that's a barrel!













































Behind the scenes at Doncaster Brewery
Thanks, Alison and Ian for a perfect afternoon. We hope to see you again soon.



















Today, Monday, has been cold but otherwise not too bad. We tripped off to Morrisons this morning for essentials, and we were back in time for the Daily Politics on BBC2. 

Now it is time to do a bit of washing before thinking about making tea. Oh the joy of housework!

I did manage to read a book last week, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. It's claim to fame is that it is the first novel in the genre 'Gothic'. Well, I did enjoy it because of the language - Medieval English - even though the story did have a few quirky moments, but I'm not sure gothic is my sort of stuff. I may be proved wrong. 

So, it's all steam ahead to prepare for the Barnsley Spoken Word Valentine's do at The Old School House, this Sunday at 4.30p.m. The entrance is whatever you can give towards the Barnsley Food Bank - Tins of meat, beans, tomatoes etc or toiletries always wanted. Come along if you can, you will be well entertained.

Ta Ta for now, have a good week and I'll be back soon with an update of my 'exciting' (could do better) life. I'll be glad when the weather improves, my little shed is being neglected.

Lots of love and hugs,
Jane xx

P.S. I have two wonderful reviews on Amazon this week, (thank you dear readers) - you may not think that is going to improve my lot, but it did bring a smile, and that is enough to put me on for the time being. Higgs Bottom you'll be a winner one day. Click to find out more.

Tears From The Sun - The Story