David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The 24th Marathon Des Sables

Steve Elford

The 24th Marathon Des Sables will take place in southern Morocco between 27th March and 6th. April, 2009. It is a 6 day/151 mile (243km) endurance race across the Sahara Desert. It has become known as The Toughest Footrace on Earth. Equivalent to five marathons in a single week. Across difficult terrain, rocky surfaces, sand dunes and scorching heat whilst carrying their self-sufficiency equipment and rations in a backpack with only 1.5 litres of water allocated per day. Must be mental I hear you say, no courageous I say! As a young man I once did the famous annual Ten Tors Expedition over Dartmoor National Park on the 50 mile route and thought that was tough, but I confess it was a mere stroll in the park compared to the Marathon Des Sables! 850 competitors from 39 countries will be taking part this year.

Numerous charities benefit from the sponsorship of each competitor who has trained hard over many months and, in some cases, even a number of years. The 2009 event will see the UK entering about 200 competitors and of those no less than 18 will be running the MdS in order to raise money for the charity Facing Africa. Noma (cancrum oris) is an acute and ravaging gangrenous infection affecting the face. The victims of Noma are mainly children under the age of 6, caught in a vicious circle of extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition. Facing Africa is committed to eliminating this horrific disease.

Steven Elford is the 30 year old son of Janet and Raymond Elford who are very good friends of mine. In 2001 whilst serving in the armed forces in Northern Ireland Steve was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Following a successful operation and a lot of determination he finally came out of remission in June 2006. As a gesture of gratitude for his recovery Steve decided to embark on training for this phenomenal personal challenge. He wishes to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support in appreciation for the help and guidance he received from the charity during his life threatening illness. I have gladly sponsored him and I invite you to consider doing the same. However great or small each and every contribution will help towards this most worthy cause. Here is the secure website address to make a donation to Steve's ambitious goal;


(copy & paste into your browser)

For more information about the Marathon Des Sables visit the following web sites;



(copy & paste into your browser)

If you have cable, digital or satellite television Eurosport will be covering the race each day so you can follow the event as it unfolds towards its exciting climax. May God be with you Steve and your fellow competitors and bless each one of you throughout every inch of this arduous and epic journey.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Wonderful National Health Service

This will bring a smile to your face today. It is funny but allegedly true! I am not so sure, however you never know!

A 75 year old lady rings her local hospital and this conversation follows:

'Hello I'd like some information on a patient, Mrs Tiptree.. She was admitted last week with chest pains and I just want to know if her condition has deteriorated, stabilised or improved?'

'Do you know which ward she is in?'

'Yes, ward P, room 2B'

'I'll just put you through to the nurse station.'

'Hello, ward P, how can I help?'

'I would just like some information on a patient, Mrs Tiptree, I was wondering if her condition had deteriorated, stabilised or improved?'

'I'll just check her notes. I'm pleased to say that Mrs Tiptree's condition has improved. She has regained her appetite, her temperature has steadied and after some routine checks tonight, she should be well enough to go home tomorrow.'

'Oh that's wonderful news, I'm so happy, thank you ever so much!'

'You seem very relieved, are you a close friend or relative?'

'No, I'm Mrs Tiptree in room 2b. Nobody tells you anything in here!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Human Statue of Liberty 1918

A copy and keeper.. God bless them all. I find it amazing that this photo, taken so many years ago, actually still exists! And now, someone has put it online for all of us to see. This INCREDIBLE picture was taken in 1918.

It is 18,000 officers and servicemen preparing for war in a training camp at Camp Dodge,Des Moines in Iowa. Yes, EIGHTEEN THOUSAND MEN!!!!! Standing tall!!!!

Col. Wm. Newman, Commanding. Col. Rush S. Wells, Directing.

What a priceless gift from the past!

Base to Shoulder: 150 feet
Right Arm: 340 feet
Widest part of arm holding torch: 12 1/2 feet
Right thumb: 35 feet
Thickest part of body: 29 feet
Left hand length: 30 feet
Face: 60 feet
Nose: 21 feet
Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet
Torch and flame combined: 980 feet
Number of men in flame of torch: 12,000
Number of men in torch: 2,800
Number of men in right arm: 1,200
Number of men in body, head and balance of figure only: 2,000

Total men: 18,000

Many thanks to my cousin Elfrieda in Florida for sending me a copy of this remarkable photograph. Click on the picture for a close up zoom to appreciate the organisational artistry and skill behind this monumental task.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Palmitos Park, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

I am back from my holiday in Gran Canaria and, having sorted a multitude of e-mail's and a mountain of snail mail, am just about ready to start posting on my blog once again. The statistics show that there has been many visits to this site during my absence and I apologise to anyone whom I failed to communicate the dates of my vacation.

Having left the UK via snowbound Bristol Airport it was a sheer joy to arrive in Gran Canaria and enjoy wall to wall sunshine day after day with daily temperatures averaging 20C. It was however a rude awakening to arrive back at Bristol Airport just after 10pm to a measly 4C ! The holiday was a great success and certainly helped to recharge my batteries and shorten the worst of the British winter.

The highlight of my holiday was a return visit to Palmitos Park in the mountainous region of Maspolomas in the south of the island. As regular readers of this blog will know, or recall, in July 2007 there was a terrible wild fire on Gran Canaria which caused a huge amount of destruction including that of Palmitos Park. The botanical and zoological reservation suffered heavy losses and it was feared it would take many years to reconstruct the park to its former glory. However, thanks to the dedication of the Board of Directors, Management, Staff and the residents of the island, nothing less than a miracle took place with the reconstruction and restocking of its treasures taking just 12 months before reopening to a grateful public once again. Many congratulations to all concerned for this fantastic achievement.

I was thrilled to hear fellow visitors saying that they would never have known that a catastrophe of such magnitude had befallen the park in recent times. That is indeed a worthy testament and tribute to all those involved in its reconstruction and replenishment. The display of photographs depicting the nightmare tragedy attracted intense interest from the visitors and clear admiration for those who had vowed to restore it to its former glory in record quick time.

Palmitos Park is sympathetic to the requirements of as near a natural habitat for the birds and animals as can possibly be imagined. Every conceivable aspect of their environment and diet is carefully planned to replicate their natural surroundings. The contentment and apparent happiness of the creatures is plain for all to see.

The birds of prey display and the exotic birds display demonstrate this most clearly as they fly freely in the open air and could so easily escape into the mountains if they so desired. There are birds from every continent and one cannot fail but to admire their variety and beauty.

Primates' Island is my favourite spot where the orangutans and gibbons reside. I was greatly relieved to learn that most of these magnificent animals were rescued in the great fire and taken to safety pending the reconstruction of the park.

There are species from all around the world and mammals include fascinating Meer Cats and Wallabies. One can discover the depths of the Pacific in the magical Aquarium. It is a wonderful Oasis and affords visitors the feeling of a walk in Paradise. The beautiful cacti plants, the Orchid House, the Butterfly House, the Reptile enclosure, etc. etc. A visit to Gran Canaria is not complete without a pilgrimage to Palmitos Park! A brand new Dolphinarium is currently under construction and should be ready by early next year. I look forward to yet another return visit. For more information surf to www.palmitospark.es

As you can tell I love Gran Canaria and regularly visit the island to escape the worst of the British winter. I attend Sunday worship at the English Evangelical Church attached to the Templo Ecumenico in central Playa del Ingles and very much enjoy their uplifting services. I would like to pay tribute to Pastor Donald Davies and his wife Val for their dedication in promulgating the Gospel message to the ex-pats and visitors who attend from many countries within Europe and around the world. Donald's wife has been very poorly in recent times and I was disappointed to miss seeing her on my latest visit. She is on my prayer list for a speedy recovery and I praise The Lord for their joint ministry on the island of Gran Canaria together with all their assistants and volunteers.

I was especially delighted to learn of the new initiative which saw the launch last November of the International Evangelical Church in Puerto Rico, G.C. and wish them every success in their shared expansion with the Scandinaviske Turistkirken church.