Before my mind melts before all these papers I’ve saved with such vigour and enthusiasm, let me stop a moment and talk about Surrey. Well, not about Surrey as such, more about spending time with my cousins, auntie and uncle and my darling 3 year old second cousin April.

I came across this painting of Surrey and it sums up Surrey for me.

I arrived on Saturday afternoon and spent the evening and night at my cousins house in Woking. Woking is a lovely place, just half an hour out of London and filled with forests. I remember my awe seeing my aunt’s house for the first time when I was still young, fascinated by the ‘forest’ in her garden! Of course, greenery and large trees were a rare occurrence for me in Malta. I still find myself fascinated by large spaces, which is why I find myself transfixed while travelling my coach through fields and fields of grass, and sheep.

I digress, my cousin has a typical English house with a little porch and cute window pane on presentation. There is something Enid Blyton about these houses, which continue to fill me with childhood pleasure, almost imagining a goblin to pop out from behind a pot.

It was an evening that reminded me of home – good red wine, spicy rice cooked by Wayne, my cousin-in-law, and entertaining the princess of the hour with bed time stories and cuddles.

Sunday was pub dinner day and boy was I impressed! We went to the Red Lion Pub in Woking and I took my first ever Veggie burger. I was tres impressed with my mushroom, roasted red peppers, halloumi cheese flavour mix! The chips were also grand, especially after a starter of baked Camembert. Food always makes me happy as you can see J

On Mondays, my aunt and I were in charge of the princess. We decided to take her to feed the ducks, and in the process take me to see the ducks on the river. The ducks weren’t having it though. They just wouldn’t show up. To be fair, I was more disappointed than April as she was content to nibble on the bread meant for them!

It is so nice to spend time with people you love, allowing yourself to be treated to tea, food and most of all family love!


Use of the R-word

I am aware that this happened in 2012, but only came across it now. It is never too late to share spirit like this!

After Ann Coulter referred to President Obama as a retard in a tweet Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens penned her this open letter:

Dear Ann Coulter,

Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.

I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.

Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.

Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.

Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more.

After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.

I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.

Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

A friend you haven’t made yet, John Franklin Stephens Global Messenger Special Olympics Virginia