Tag Archives: Clouds

My Christmas Internet Shopping Disaster

It’s safe to say that as December approached I wasn’t really in a good place, just ask my friends at my Connect Group, I couldn’t really explain what the issue was, it was just an amalgamation of a number of things. The last few years I’ve struggle at Christmas, it just seems there are too many bad memories that I dislike about myself and too many good memories that I long for once more. I know I was locked in my own mind and I was struggling to get out, my poems reflected this from time to time, none more so than The Cave.

By the time I got into December things hadn’t really improved, but my birthday did bring some relief, it was probably the best birthday I’ve had in many years. The next day for a brief period a big cloud that loomed large over Christmas was lifted, the money I was owed by the Architects came through. This was a big deal for me, it was money that was owed from the beginning of the year onwards, it was difference between my kids having the Christmas presents I wanted to give them and us just scraping through Christmas once again.

But then later that evening the clouds came back, I received a phone call from my Dad, his younger brother had finally lost his battle with lung cancer. Just before Christmas last year he had surgery to remove part of his lung, they also found the cancer had spread to his ribs, so they removed a number of them too. Earlier this year they found they hadn’t stopped it and gave Andy a year to live. Unfortunately he never made it that far.

A couple of nights later I dropped in to see my Dad on the way home from work, he said he was okay, but deep down he was struggling, he kept calling me Andy, he did it a number of times until he realised what he was saying. Andy had accepted his fate, he had prepared for everything, all my Aunty Sue had to do was register the death and arrange a date.

Andy’s cremation took place on Wednesday 23rd, just two days before Christmas, which was hard, but the family wanted to bring closure before Christmas and not have it hanging over them during that period, I think Andy would have wanted it that way.

The Online Nightmare

So with two weeks to go before Christmas, the money in my account I went onto the Internet to order presents. I logged on to the Argos website, chose what I wanted, arranged to collect in store and tried to pay for everything, then it all started to go wrong.

Firstly my bank got in the way, they stopped the payment, flagging it as fraudulent, so I responded to their security procedures and tried again, same problem! So this time I called the bank, they said it now wasn’t them, but Visa who were now stopping the payment, they sorted that for me and I tried again.

I should have by this point, just arrange to pay in store, but I persevered, this time though something was not right, after confirming payment details and my security details, nothing seemed to happen, the web page just returned to the home page and there was no order confirmation, something was not right, I tried again, same problem, so I called the bank again.

This time they said they weren’t stopping it, but as I was on the phone to them the transaction flagged up on their system and the money was reserved for Argos in my account, they gave me the authorisation details and suggested I speak with Argos, but at that time of night there was no one available to speak with.

So next morning at work I called Argos, no one could find my order, to be honest they didn’t seem that helpful in getting to the bottom of it all, I spoke to a guy who promised he would fax my bank and ask them to release the funds back into my account as they would not be collecting it, it he blamed their website timing out!

Later in the day I dropped into the bank to see I f they money had been released back into my account, it hadn’t and the woman there was totally unhelpful, it wasn’t a small amount to me, in total it was over £1000 that was tied up in my account, she suggested they give me a temporary overdraft, which she then said I would be charged for! Hang on a minute this isn’t my fault and I’m not paying for it, if they hadn’t blocked the transaction this probably wouldn’t have happened, I wasn’t happy when I left the bank, until I got that money back, Christmas was on hold!

I rang the bank when I got home and after about three phone calls and numerous different people, I finally got through to someone who made sense and could explain the situation. He explained the money was held for Argos and if they didn’t claim it, it would be back in my account sometime on Monday, as it was now Friday, that wasn’t that bad, why couldn’t the woman in the bank explain this? He in the end put £50 into my account as a gesture of goodwill from the bank. He did say if they received the fax from Argos they would release the money immediately, but as yet there was no fax.

Later that evening I checked if the money had gone back in, it hadn’t, so I called Argos to see what was happening. Once more I was passed from pillar to post, finally I got through to someone who seemed to be interested in sorting the problem. She agreed that I could called her on Monday when the money was back in my account, she would put the order in for me with discount and free delivery, I couldn’t argue with that, now I just had to wait for the money to be released back into my account.

I checked numerous times over the course of Monday, the money finally came back into my account about 9pm, too late to call Argos, so the next morning at work I tried!

I couldn’t get through to the woman I spoke with Friday and once again no one seemed interested, I was passed around the phone system and not one person would help me out, so after losing my temper and swearing at the guy on the phone I hung up, livid.

As Argos weren’t bothered, I decided to try Amazon, I logged on and ordered the same items and proceeded with the order. I thought it odd that the website hadn’t taken any security details for my card, but appeared to proceed the order. Then later that afternoon I got an email saying they couldn’t process the order, they needed further security details, until then my order was on hold, I emailed back saying to cancel the order and decided to give Argos one more try.

After getting passed around once more, finally someone took my order with the discounts promised, everything was now sorted. Then later that evening, there was just one more thing I needed to order from the Internet, but once more the payment failed, here we go again, I called the bank to find I was overdrawn by over £300, no way! It then transpired that both Argos and Amazon had had their payments accepted and reserved in my account which technically left me overdrawn. I was mad because I couldn’t see how Amazon could do this with no security information, surely this was wrong, unethical and possibly illegal, how wonderful the banking system is that it allows for this loop hole, technically the money does leave the account until they claim, so once more if I got Amazon to fax the bank it would be released immediately, otherwise it would return into my account in three days, which would be Friday, one week before Christmas.

Next day when I got to work, there was an email saying my Amazon order had been dispatched, what? The order that had been cancelled, the one they couldn’t confirm the payment details, the one that required security details was now on its way and would be delivered later that day. The last thing I wanted was two of everything and no money, so I contacted Amazon and cancelled everything, which they did, but they wouldn’t contact my bank and wouldn’t explain how they could process the order without my full banking security information, surely this wasn’t right!

As the day progressed there was no sign of my Argos order, so at the end of the day I called them, only to find that they had cancelled the order because they couldn’t confirm my security details, they said they tried to call me, but at work I certainly don’t answer calls on my mobile with 0845 numbers I don’t recognise, so they cancelled the order without informing my. So I had gone from believing in the morning that I had two orders on the way and no money, to now having no orders and no money.

So I called Amazon, surely if they have that money, they can reinstate the order, no such look, not even interested, they wouldn’t contact my bank and wouldn’t do anything with the order, they said their complaints department would contact me within 48 hours, yet at the point of writing this they never bothered. To say I was livid was an understatement, I was back beneath the dark cloud which was my dread of Christmas, for the first time in years I thought I could get things right and now everything was going horribly wrong. All I could do now was wait for the money to drop bank into my account and then hope I could still get everything in time for Christmas.

By Friday afternoon the first payment had dropped back into my account and the by the end of the evening the other one was back too. In a small town like Newark, there aren’t many shopping options, I don’t drive and I was working Saturday morning, so going elsewhere wasn’t possible either, so I gave in and went back to the Argos website, reordered everything and arrange to collect and pay in store, not going through this Internet payment nightmare again. So Saturday afternoon I finally collected everything, all the money was back in my bank and things seemed to pick up. The other item I wanted I was too late to order, so I managed to pick up an alternative from town, everything was back in place.

So far I haven’t pursued either complaint with Argos or Amazon for their performance or treatment. I decided for my own peace just to order the goods from Argos and leave it at that. I’m still undecided whether to contact both parties or just leave it, I think I will just leave it, move on now, but I certainly won’t be ordering anything over the Internet with either of them ever again.

In the end my Christmas was the best I have had in years, members of my Connect Group made it so much better, one couple give me a gift that was unbelievable and another family insisted I join them Christmas Day, rather than be alone at home, I had a great time with them, it made my Christmas.

I’ve been wanting to write this rant since all this kicked off, but managed to resist, I think it would have been pretty angst ridden and I didn’t want this blog to be used for such purposes, but now I write just to bring closure to the situation and hope that as the New Year approaches all the darkness that led up to Christmas is a thing of the past and the New Year is going to bring some amazing things, not just for me, but for everyone.

I hope and pray also that everyone had a great Christmas and the New Year is an amazing one.

I am going to post this song today, normally I used Christian songs or songs of encouragement, this one though is the one my Uncle Andy chose to be played at his service, I thought I would share it.

MANY RIVERS TO CROSS by UB40
Many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost as I travel along
The white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years and,
I merely survive because of my pride.

And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s such a drag to be on your own
My woman left and she didn’t say why
Well I guess, I gotta try.
Many rivers to cross but where to begin,
I’m playing for time
There’ll be times when I find myself thinking
Of committing some dreadful crime.

I’ve got many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost as I travel along
The white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years and,
I merely survive because of my pride.

No Fear Of Mine

No Fear Of Mine (Romans 8:38-39)

They try to surround me
With darkest clouds
They try to cloak me
In deepening shadows
Tiny voices in my mind
Push me into storms
Storms of my fear

You see me there
A mighty wind blows
Dissolving my clouds
Your light of hope
Fades my shadows
As the storms subside
The rainbows grow

No fear of mine
Shall come between
No storms or darkness
Can hide Your face
Neither mountains or depths
Shall hold You back
Or the love You have for me

Romans 8:38-39

Romans 8:38-39

From Under Dark Clouds

From Under Dark Clouds (Ezekiel 34:12)

Storm clouds gathered
Bringer of shadows
Cloaking a lost soul
In cold darkness

Wandering lost
Afraid and alone
A bottle for a friend
No place to call home

Until He came a calling
Crying out this name
From beyond the clouds
A voice of pure love

The clouds slowly shifted
Shadows and darkness broken
As light flooded the landscape
A life potential stood highlighted

As those arms pulled me close
A warmth did spread
Living air filled dying lungs
New life injected the bones

Thankful steps do I take
As a heart beat in time
With the grace of a Father’s love
To a child once lost to the clouds

Ezekiel 34:12

Ezekiel 34:12

Finding The Green Fields Once Again

About a month ago I got off to a bit of a false start in terms of getting out each morning and walking as the sun rises.  At one time I was out every morning, regardless of the weather, the days when I walked seemed to have far more balance to them, then about two years ago it started to get a little sporadic, until eventually I stopped before slipping into a period of dark depression.

Over the last couple of years I’ve tried many a time to get out again.  Just like a month ago it starts out alright for a few days, but somehow I find an excuse to miss a day, then two, then three and so on and so on.  Last month it lasted just short of a week and then due to being busy with work, I decided I was too tired and caved in each morning.  But each night I would berate myself in my journal for not getting out, I would promise myself I would get out again the next morning, but it never happened and the cycle carried on.  This morning though, the alarm went of and there was no deliberation, within ten minutes I was out the house walking.

My plan was to walk the cycle track, which is about four miles long and then return, it a total walk of around eight and half miles, in around two hours, on the way I would just make it to the lake as the sun rises.

Blue Skies

Blue Skies

Hidden

Hidden

Beyond

Beyond

Over The Green Fields

Over The Green Fields

Before The Clouds

Before The Clouds

As I got to the end of the track, which up to the point where I turn around is tarmac, I noticed that the dirt path which continues for another few miles had been cut back, over recent years it has been overgrown, last time I attempted to walk it was almost three years ago, but it was so overgrown I couldn’t get through.  I walked it about five years ago and remember coming across a peaceful little spot where a small stream runs under a bridge, I’ve wanted to find it again so many times, but as I say the last time I tried it was impossible.

This morning for some reason, I just carried on, without even thinking I found myself walking the small path, until I found the bridge right at the end of the path, after the bridge it is still overgrown, but I wasn’t bothered about that, I had found what I wanted.

The Stream

The Stream

The Bridge

The Bridge

It’s Bank Holiday Monday tomorrow and I am not working this one, so all being well I intend to walk it again in the morning, although my aching hips may have something to say about that!!!

This morning I wrote “Green Fields”, I felt it was an answer to my prayers, to get up again and get out walking, I feel I have drifted a little for long enough, keeping some of the routines that help me along the way in this recovery, but abandoning others, like the daily walking.

There is a cheeky reference in there from a classic song, not sure whether anyone can spot it, there a clue included in the title too.

MERCY TREE by LACEY STURM
On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree
Every broke and weary soul
Find your rest and be made whole

Stripes of blood that stain its frame
Shed to wash away our shame
From the scars pure love released
Salvation brought the mercy tree

In the sky, between two thieves
Hung the blameless Prince of Peace
Bruised and battered, scarred and scorned
Sacred Hands pierced by our thorns

It is finished was his cry
The perfect Lamb was crucified
The sacrifice, our victory.
Our Savior chose the mercy tree

Hope went dark that violent day
The whole earth ‘quaked at love’s display
Three days silence in the ground
This body born for Heaven’s crown

On that bright and glorious day
Heaven opened up the grave
He’s alive and risen indeed
Praise him for the mercy tree

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

One day soon we’ll see His face
And every tear, He’ll wipe a way
No more pain or suffering
Oh, praise him for the mercy tree

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

Death has died. Love has won!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has overcome.
He has risen from the dead.

On a hill called Calvary
Stands an endless mercy tree

A Brighter End To The Week

It’s fair to say that this week has ended far better than it started.  Last weekend was a tough one in many ways and I thank everyone who left a message of support.  I very often find that when I share my struggle on this blog, it lifts the weight of it from my shoulders, it was certainly the case last Sunday, almost immediately after I had posted the gloom began to lift and I felt so much better.

As the weather has improved also as the week has gone on and I have managed to catch a few sunrises by the lake on the way to work, it seems like so long since I managed that, so as I always used to, I share the sunrises with you all.

Pastel Morning

Pastel Morning

Beyond The Blue

Beyond The Blue

Fire In The Blue

Fire In The Blue

Breaking The Dark

Breaking The Dark

In The Blue

In The Blue

Between

Between

Breaking

Breaking

Highlighting

Highlighting

Risen

Risen

Skies

Skies

THANK YOU by JAKE HAMILTON & KIM WALKER-SMITH
Thank you for the summer
And thank you for the rain
And thank you for the pleasure
Thank you for the pain

Thank you for the flowers
That bloom in early may
And thank you for the winter
That washes fall away

I want to say thank you
Thank you for it all

Thank you for the deserts
Thank you for the trees
Thank you for the failures
And for the victories

Thank you for the pruning
That gives me room to grow
Thank you for the seasons
Where I learn to reap and sow

So come, let us worship
Let us release a joyful sound
Let us enter his presence
Let us all bow down

A Frosty Sunrise

It’s been sometime since I posted any photo’s on here, mostly because of the timing of my walks and the sunrise haven’t quite come together or in typical English fashion, the weather has been pretty lousy!

Despite the this morning being the first frost since the end of last winter, the sunrise was worth catching and sharing.

Beyond The Blue

Beyond The Blue

Two In Flight

Two In Flight

Rising Morning

Rising Morning

First Signs

First Signs

From Beyond

From Beyond

Blue Fades To Orange

Blue Fades To Orange

Rising

Rising

Distant Sun

Distant Sun

DISTANT SUN by CROWDED HOUSE
Tell me all the things you would change
I don’t pretend to know what you want
When you come around and spin my top
Time and again, time and again

No fire where I lit my spark
I am not afraid of the dark
Where your words devour my heart
And put me to shame, put me to shame

When your seven worlds collide
Whenever I’m by your side
And dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone

Still so young to travel so far
Old enough to know who you are
Wise enough to carry the scars
Without any blame, there’s no one to blame

It’s easy to forget what you learned
Waiting for the thrill to return
Feeling your desire burn
And drawn to the flame

When your seven worlds collide
Whenever I’m by your side
Dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone
Dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone

And I’m lying on the table
Washed out in a flood
Like a Christian feeling vengeance from above
I don’t pretend to know what you want
But I offer love

Seven worlds will collide
Whenever I’m by your side
Dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone

As time slips by

As time slips by

But I’m Glad I Didn’t Hold My Breath

I have a couple of days of day job, I have quite a few days to get in before the end of the year, so I took a few whilst there is nobody else off.

So I started the day at 5am, determined to get out walking again, I actually planned on doing around 8 miles and catching the sunrise at the lake, after getting to the point where I was planning to turn back, I actually forgot to turn around and carried on all the way up the cycle track, eventually completing about 12 miles.  Which actually turned out pretty well, as the sun never broke through the clouds at the lake, although it did turn the sky and the lake blood red, but it did break through by the time I got to the end of cycle track.

It’s not been an altogether lazy day either, I’ve got a survey drawing to do for the Architects, I’ve not measured it and there so many measurements missing, it’s a real tough one to do and the deadline it tomorrow, although I actually feel like finally saying stuff the deadline!

But the end of this month I’ll be owed 12 months of work, I’ve been patient, there are other circumstances which are beyond my control and are not as straight forward as simply not being paid, but I’ve been as fair as I possibly could.  I was promised some of the money a couple of weeks ago and that I would be paid up to date by the end of the month, I didn’t hold my breath.

At the end of last week I was promised a substantial payment today, but once again, no sign of anything and yet again, I’m glad I never held my breath.

I’ll finish the drawing tomorrow, I have said I would and will keep my word, but after that, we’ll see.

But before that I will get out walking once again, another 12 miles should do the trick.

Early Glow

Early Glow

Fire Skies

Fire Skies

Red Over The Water

Red Over The Water

Horizons

Horizons

Breaking The Cloud

Breaking The Cloud

From Behind

From Behind

Illuminating The Power Lines

Illuminating The Power Lines

Higher Power

Higher Power

In Flight

In Flight

WE DANCE by STEFFANY FRIZZELL GRETZINGER & BETHEL MUSIC
You steady me
Slow and sweet, we sway
Take the lead and I will follow
Finally ready now
To close my eyes and just believe
That You won’t lead me
Where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance

And I’ve been told
To pick up my sword
And fight for love
Little did I know
That Love had won for me
Here in Your arms

You still my heart again
And I breathe You in
Like I’ve never breathed ’till now

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round
And remind me of that song
The one You wrote for me
And we dance
And I will lock eyes
With the One who’s ransomed me
The One who gave me joy for mourning
And I will lock eyes
With the One who’s chosen me
The One who set my feet to dancing?

We dance
Just You and me
It’s nice to know I’m not alone
I found my home here in Your arms
It’s nice to know I’m not alone?
I found my home here in Your arms
It’s nice to know I’m not alone
I found my home here in Your arms