Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday 31st May 2019......Day 1!!!!!

So the time has come for me to to start the drive back home and it was hard to say goodbye to everyone here.....I will be seeing Gracie at the end of June.....I have really enjoyed my time with the children both are great kids.....

I have such a new respect for parents everywhere..this was my first time being around children so young and for five weeks being in their space all the time I have come to realize what a great and everlasting commitment it is for parents of course the rewards are huge to see the children grow and to be safe and happy....but the job is never ending and very tiring!!!!

I was on the road around 9 am and set the GPS and I was on interstate 95 for almost the whole way to Arlington Cemetery 

This is a long read but so worth while!!

John F. Kennedy made his first formal visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1961, to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the conclusion of the ceremony President Kennedy spoke to more than 5,000 people gathered in the Memorial Amphitheater.

Eleven days prior to Kennedy's assassination he returned to Arlington for the 1963 Armistice Day services. This time he did not address the crowd in the amphitheater.

On Nov. 22, 1963, while on a campaign trip to Dallas, President Kennedy was shot and killed.

There are only two U.S. presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The other is William Howard Taft, who died in 1930.

Though Kennedy is buried at Arlington, at the time of his death, many believed that he would be buried in Brookline, Mass. Woodrow Wilson was the only other president besides Taft who had been buried outside of his native state and in the National Capital Region. President Wilson is buried at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, in consultation with Robert F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, approved burial of the president at Arlington National Cemetery with the gravesite below Arlington House.

On Nov. 25, 1963, at 3 p.m., the state funeral of President Kennedy began.

Among the mourners at Kennedy's grave site were President Charles de Gaulle of France, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of the Federal Republic of Germany, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom. Overhead, 50 Navy and Air Force jets flew past the gravesite followed by the president's plane, Air Force One, which dipped its wing in final tribute.

The initial plot was 20 feet by 30 feet and was surrounded by a white picket fence. During the first year often more than 3,000 people an hour visited the Kennedy gravesite, and on weekends an estimated 50,000 people visited. Three years after Kennedy's death, more than 16 million people had come to visit the Kennedy plot.

Because of the large crowds, cemetery officials and members of the Kennedy family decided that a more suitable site should be constructed. Construction began in 1965 and was completed July 20, 1967. Lighted by Mrs. Kennedy during the funeral, the Eternal Flame burns from the center of a five-foot circular flat-granite stone at the head of the grave.

The Kennedy family paid actual costs in the immediate grave area. The government was responsible for the improvements in the surrounding area that provided for the accommodation of the visiting public. Funds in the amount of $1,770,000 were included for this purpose in Fiscal Year 1965's Public Works Appropriation.

On May 23, 1994, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was buried next to President Kennedy. The gravesite was completed with addition of her grave marker Oct. 6, 1994.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater.

The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classic pilasters, or columns, set into the surface. Sculpted into the east panel which faces Washington, D.C., are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. The six wreaths, three sculpted on each side, represent the six major campaigns of World War I. Inscribed on the back of the Tomb are the words:

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God

The Tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza.

The Unknown of World War I

On Memorial Day, 1921, four unknowns were exhumed from four World War I American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat, highly decorated for valor and received the Distinguished Service Medal in "The Great War, the war to end all wars," selected the Unknown Soldier of World War I from four identical caskets at the city hall in Chalons-sur-Marne, France, Oct. 24, 1921. Sgt. Younger selected the unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets. He chose the third casket from the left. The chosen unknown soldier was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia. Those remaining were interred in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, France.

The Unknown Soldier lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery

The guard is changed every hour on the hour October 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknown who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, "Pass on your orders." The current sentinel commands, "Post and orders, remain as directed." The newly posted sentinel replies, "Orders acknowledged," and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

The Tomb Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. After the turn, the sentinel executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed -- the 21-gun salute.

Duty time when not "walking" is spent in the Tomb Guard Quarters below the Memorial Display Room of the Memorial Amphitheater where they study cemetery "knowledge," clean their weapons and help the rest of their relief prepare for the Changing of the Guard. The guards also train on their days off.

The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are "Known But to God."

Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Virginia.

After members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment become ceremonially qualified, they are eligible to volunteer for duty as sentinels at the Tomb. If accepted, they are assigned to Company E of The Old Guard. Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall for males or 5 feet, 8 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches tall for females with a proportionate weight and build. An interview and a two-week trial to determine a volunteer's capability to train as a tomb guard is required.

During the trial phase, would-be sentinels memorize seven pages of Arlington National Cemetery history. This information must be recited verbatim in order to earn a "walk." A walk occurs between guard changes. A daytime walk is one-half hour in the summer and one hour in the winter. All night walks are one hour.

If a soldier passes the first training phase, "new-soldier" training begins. New sentinels learn the history of Arlington National Cemetery and the grave locations of nearly 300 veterans. They learn the guard-change ceremony and the manual of arms that takes place during the inspection portion of the Changing of the Guard. Sentinels learn to keep their uniforms and weapons in immaculate condition.

The sentinels will be tested to earn the privilege of wearing the silver Tomb Guard Identification Badge after several months of serving. First, they are tested on their manual of arms, uniform preparation and their walks. Then, the Badge Test is given. The test is 100 randomly selected questions of the 300 items memorized during training on the history of Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The would-be badge holder must get more than 95 percent correct to succeed.

The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is a temporary award until the badge-holding sentinel has honorably served at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for nine months. At that time, the award can be made a permanent badge, which may then be worn for the rest of a military career. The silver badge is an upside-down, laurel-leaf wreath surrounding a depiction of the front face of the Tomb. Peace, Victory and Valor are portrayed as Greek figures. The words "Honor Guard" are shown below the Tomb on the badge.

There are three reliefs, each having one relief commander and about six sentinels. The three reliefs are divided by height so that those in each guard change ceremony look similar. The sentinels rotate walks every hour in the winter and at night, and every half-hour in the day during the summer. The Tomb Guard Quarters is staffed using a rotating Kelly system. Each relief has the following schedule: first day on, one day off, second day on, one day off, third day on, four days off. Then, their schedule repeats.

It was a very emotional and solemn feeling for me to be surrounded by so much history and greatness....

The changing of the guard is something that will always stay with me!!!  It was such a short simple yet overwhelmingly moving exchange!!!

I then drove a few more miles to here...

What a lovely walk it was around the falls..

Another few more miles and I arrived at my Airbnb for the night....the hosts are very nice and it will be a good first stop over....heading into the tub now!!!

Yashi Kochi!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday 30 th May 2019...goodbye children!!!!

So the five weeks of baby has  come to an end...I have really enjoyed my time with Jonah,,

Getting him from day care every day and going to the store, the parks...he has been a very good boy!!

I also loved taking Izzie out for long walks in he stroller..she is adorable!!!

Gracie is staying on for another month which is good news for the family!!

Tonight another wet and windy storm passed through..the third in three days...but the forecast is better and brighter for tomorrow!!

I have a full day planned for tomorrow stay tuned!!

Yashi Kochi!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday 29th May 2019.......tornado warnings in NJ!!

I did some changes to the format of the blog..hope you like them!!!

Another not so great day a tad cooler with grey looking skies but it was not cold so around 10am I took Izzie out in the stroller...

The big park very close by is so huge and today I found a new path around that had mileage markers and it was 1.5 miles around and we went around twice..

Along the way is a wonderful rose garden, an archery field, a big dog off leash and Izzie got her first taste of a tennis court!!

We were gone for over two hours and she was so well behaved!!

Did some packing arrangements and some computer work for my trip on Friday!!

Then went and picked up Jonah from daycare he is always so happy to see me and we again went to his favourite park to see the ducks and play on the equipment!!!

Tonight after Gracie and I watched our usual Jeopardy ..that young man is an amazing brain...he knows just about everything and can bring it out so quickly..if you have not been watching you should it is great entertainment!!

Then I watched the second match in the hockey finals!!

The tornado warning just brought really strong wings and ver6bheavy rain....but all is OK!!

Yashi Kochi!!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday 28th May 2019....a look ahead!!!

Well I thought the sunny days were here to stay but this morning it is cool and grey and rain will be here before I know it.....

Back on to the regular schedule Ryan dropped off Jonah at day care before he goes to work........

I drove Emily to the train station for her commute to work in the city and Gracie and I are home with baby I write this she is sleeping so sweetly and Gracie has gone to do some shopping!!!

So time to fill you in on the plans for the next few weeks...

Gracie is going to stay here for the month of June and then fly back home to SMA around the end of June....

I leave here Friday for the drive back to SMA and I shall arrive on Sunday 9th June......I have a route planned with air bnb stays each evening!!

The route I am taking is a new one and I get to visit places I have not visited before....

This is my route and plan for this Friday!!

I will leave around 9 am and drive to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia and visit this historic sight.....

From there a short drive to these amazing waterfalls ...

Then another twenty minute drive to Herndon Virginia where I stay for the night!!

So this week I think will pass quickly and I shall be back on the road again....

Hope you all have a great day!!

Yashi Kochi!!

Monday, May 27, 2019

(TemporaryMonday 27th May 2019.....Memorial Day!!!

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2019 occurs on Monday, May 27. 

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

Early Observances of Memorial Day

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Did you know? Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.

History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Memorial Day Traditions

Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of those fallen in war—a tradition that began with a World War I poem. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

So this morning Ryan and I took the kids to a lovely park in the next town..all these parks I have been to are so well kept, usually with a stream running through and great playground equipment....we walked around and they decided to go home and I stayed because at noon there was a parade happening down Main Street.

I knew this would not be in the same zone as the parades in Mexico but I do love marching music and this was fun.

Enjoyed the long walk home and then it was a late afternoon outside with everyone before taking Jonah for a long walk in the stroller....

 a nice dinner and when the kids went to bed Gracie and I watched another episode of West Wing and then I watched the end of the first game of the Stanley cup hockey finals!!!

Yashi Kochi!!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday 26 th May 2019... a Sunday drive like my Grandparents used to do!!!!

Today we went in different directions...Emily and Ryan took the children to a picnic lunch at a lake a short drive away and Gracie and I did a longer drive up to the Delaware Water Gap......we were gone about six hours and it made a nice change to be out....

Enjoy the views and the waterfalls....a beautiful sunny and warm day!!

Yashi Kochi!!!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Saturday 25th May 2019.....The French Open begins!!!

The real reason Roger Federer refuses to retire

Can Roger Federer hold off the chasing pack?

Roger Federer doesn’t seem to be slowing down, despite conventional wisdom and the body of a 37-year-old suggesting he probably should.

And while he’s backed up his decision to keep playing with his performance on the court and an unwaning reverence for the game, there could be another thing driving the Swiss great.

With Federer sitting atop the all-time list for most grand slams with 20, only three ahead of Rafael Nadal and five in front of Novak Djokovic, the chase is well and truly on.

According to Fox Sports Australia commentator Sam Groth, that’s likely one reason Federer is playing on; the tennis superstar set to compete at Roland Garros for the first time in four years.

“I definitely think that record is in danger,” Groth told

“I think it’s probably one of the reasons we still see Roger playing. Obviously he loves competing and loves being out there, but I think there’s no way that he wants that record to be broken.

“Obviously Rafa and Novak are both not that far away. But the form that Novak has shown since Wimbledon last year — he’s won the last three slams — and the last time he went on this sort of run, he racked up 6 or so in a couple years, he’s got that same sort of form going again.

“I think from Roger’s point of view, it’s not something that he’d want to see — Novak coming up in the rear-view mirror to that record.”

With Djokovic in with a chance to complete a second career ‘Nole Slam’ — he will hold all four majors at once with a win at the French — and Nadal obviously the favourite going into the 2019 edition; Federer’s major lead is almost certainly going to be cut into by one of the two.

“...You never want to write him [Federer] off,” Groth said.

“But by his form coming in, and the form that Novak’s been in over the last 12 months, and the form that Rafa always shows when he hits the clay, I think it’s going to be tough for Roger to come through and win.”

Groth forecast a Nadal-Djokovic final, with the Spaniard still “definitely the man to beat” at a tournament he’s made his own; hunting a twelfth French Open title. 

Wish every a wonderful happy holiday weekend!!

Yashi Kochi!!!!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday 24th May 2019.....the kindness of complete strangers!!!!!

Today was hiking day and I found another state park to go to about 35 minutes away....packed a lunch and some drinks and away I went.

I had map directions and it was supposed to be a 3.5 mile circular hike...the write up said it was in rugged back country....

After 45 minutes I came upon these lovely waterfalls...

Then it was a big up hill climb to the look out....

Fabulous views and I ate my sandwich here and drank my juice....

Before I continue with the story I take full responsibility for not packing my back pack like I normally do I always have a first aid kit, every bars packed but not today...

The route markers directed me to a different route back and all was well till I came to a three way intersection..I had no idea which way to cell service so that was not an option.....I always remember my Father’s advice.....when in doubt turn I did......

Not right this time Pop!!!

To cut a long story short I got hopelessly lost and I was following markers that did not seem to lead anywhere...

After walking over an hour to my horror I was going up hill thinking this is not right and lo and behold I finished back on the same look out I had just left but had approached from a different route...

By this time I had walked a long way and only had a tiny drop of water left and I had been hiking over five hours.....

I sat down and rested and thought about my options....I could not use my phone and the terrain was rugged and although I was on trails with markers and I was following them they seemed to lead me in circles....

As usual for me just when I thought about some serious options I saw something I had not seen the whole day....people on the was a mother and her teenaged daughter.....

I asked if they knew the trails and they did and they said they were going back to the parking lot and I could hike with them...

They were very kind and the Mum had been to SMA a few years ago..

We hiked about another hour and when we reached the parking lot I instantly knew what had happened they were in a different parking lot to me this is not where the car was....

When I told them they asked where I was parked and when I told them they said that parking lot is about 15 minutes away on the other side of the worries I said I would get an Uber as I had cell coverage..they would not hear of it and proceeded to drive to me to the car..

Such wonderful kindness for which I thanked them and said I would pay it forward one day.....they made my day!!

I got home vert tired around 6 pm and I reckon I walked close to 14 miles!!!!!

A sleepy kid tonight!!!

Yashi Kochi!!!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday 23 rd May 2019......a long read!!!

Well I do not think you have to be a tennis fan to find this article interesting!!!

Novak Djokovic: How 1999 Nato bombings of Belgrade shaped his career

By Jonathan Jurejko & Slobodan Maricic

A mural depicts Djokovic outside the flat where he stayed during the bombing of Belgrade in 1999

Looking up from the street, this concrete, angular building looks no different from the many Brutalist tower blocks dotted around Belgrade.

As you go inside, a prison-style gate with vertical metal bars guards the white front door of the first flat on the left.

This was the home of Novak Djokovic's grandfather Vladimir.

Here, the world's leading male tennis player sheltered as a small child while Nato bombed the Serbian capital between March and June 1999.

When the head-pounding drone of air-raid sirens rang out, families spanning several generations, along with neighbours and friends from nearby blocks, all filed down the stairs, through several steel doors and into the basement.

This was a formative time for Djokovic, now a 15-time Grand Slam singles champion and the man who will hold all four major titles for the second time in his career if he wins the forthcoming French Open.

As he celebrated his 12th birthday in May 1999, a decade-long crisis was tearing the Balkans apart and Belgrade was a focal point. Twenty years on, there is still tension over how Nato bombed Serbia for 11 weeks in an effort to push Serbian forces out of Kosovo, accusing them of atrocities against ethnic Albanians.

"When they sounded the alarm and the planes started to buzz, you never knew where the bombs would hit," says Djordjo Milenic, an elderly man who was friends with Djokovic's grandfather and lives in the adjacent block.

"They bombed whatever they wanted. 'Collateral damage,' they said. They bombed bridges, hospitals, pregnant women died."

His voice trails off. "It's hard, it's hard."

We are in Banjica, a residential area about 7km south of downtown Belgrade. Locals describe it as "an average suburb", populated by working-class families from a Serbian ethnic background who live in moderately cheap high-rise flats.

Djokovic's grandfather Vlada, as he was known by those close to him, lived in a two-bedroom flat here until his death in 2012.

Now it is unoccupied, owned - according to neighbours, at least - by one of Djokovic's aunts, who they think lives in Switzerland.

Nevertheless, it will always be intrinsically linked to the story of how Djokovic rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest tennis players that has ever lived.

Djokovic was here with his widowed grandfather because his parents, father Srdjan and mother Dijana, spent most of their time away from Belgrade as they toiled to provide for their three sons - eldest Novak and his two younger brothers Marko and Djordje.

That meant spending most of the year in Kopaonik, a mountain resort near Kosovo, more than four hours' drive from Belgrade.

By day they gave skiing lessons, by night they served pizza in the restaurant they owned. Srdjan and Dijana worked tirelessly to make ends meet while funding Novak's burgeoning tennis career.

Not wishing to disrupt their children's education, the Djokovic boys stayed with granddad Vlada.

"The basement is practically where we stayed. Everyone who could fit here they came, there was no limitation," Novak said in an American TV documentary made by CBS in 2011.

"We were waking up every single night at 2am or 3am for two and a half months because of the bombings," he said of those 78 days in 1999.

"In a way these experiences made me a champion, it made us tougher, made us more hungry for success."

Many people around Banjica know the Djokovic family. Some shared the basement where they sheltered.

Milica Milivojevic is a 31-year-old woman who lives upstairs in Djokovic's old block.

She says there were about "20 or 30" people inside the shelter, remembering it smelt of "moisture and humidity".

"We heard bombs, but not while we were in the shelter," she says.

"From outside we could hear bombs falling on Avala (a hill on the edge of Belgrade targeted because there was a telecommunications tower).

"Friends gathered in the basement, especially younger people. We played some board games - Monopoly or Risk - some older kids were drinking or doing drugs."

She starts laughing: "A lot was going on."

Of course there is no suggestion Djokovic, a child prodigy who had already appeared on national television proclaiming his dream was to win Wimbledon, took part in the 'edgier' adolescent activities.

He was too busy pursuing his dream of becoming world number one.

Two murals celebrating Djokovic's achievements have been painted on tower blocks in Banjica. 'With belief in God' is the slogan accompanying this one.

Bogdan Obradovic has seen a lot in a life which has been dominated by tennis and politics.

A promising junior player who moved into coaching aged 18, Obradovic was approached by Djokovic's father Srdjan to guide his 10-year-old boy.

Later, Obradovic went on to become Serbia's Davis Cup captain - leading them to one of the nation's greatest sporting triumphs when the team containing Djokovic won the trophy in 2010. Now 52, he serves as a member of Serbia's parliament.

"Novak's father and I had some mutual friends and they told him I was a good coach and could maybe help him," he says.

"We did one practice and I was completely shocked.

"He was completely prepared. He was warming up, he had a bottle of water, a banana, a towel, everything. I had never seen that from a kid so young."

Obradovic knew he was a player - at that time "weighing around 25kg" - destined for the top.

During the bombings he says they worked together "every day", going around Belgrade in search of courts they didn't have to pay to use.

"By that time people knew Novak and he was already popular so they helped him a lot. We trained at many different clubs," he says. "It was improvisation but that's how we did it.

"You know Only Fools and Horses? We love it here. And that is actually our mentality. We do everything through fun. And we always think, like Del Boy, our luck will change.

"We were in a terrible situation during the bombings. You hear the sound and see on the news, people were killed and everything is destroyed. But you can do nothing, and we found a way how to make fun.

"I was with Novak all the time, we practised together and every day was like normal. He was focused but having so much fun at that time. He laughed so much."

Djokovic often trained at the Partizan Tennis Club, an arm of the multi-sport body which also includes the 27-time national champion football team, plus successful basketball, water polo and volleyball sides.

Dusan Grujic has been the Partizan president for 22 years and says this is the club Djokovic "has in his heart".

"When you spend 11 years somewhere, like he did here, I don't know how we could say anything different," he adds.

"Novak made his first steps at Kopaonik, but that was only for a short time. When he was six, he came to Partizan. We provided him with everything we could and everything he wanted."

Photos of their greatest son, along with other alumni including 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, line the walls of a modest clubhouse.

One shows a boyish Novak wearing a Partizan baseball cap and scarf, alongside childhood friend Ivanovic. Djokovic's neighbour Djordjo Milenic says he used to tell grandfather Vlada that Novak "should marry her".

Another shows Djokovic at 16, wearing the club's black and white stripes as he concentrates intently on gearing up a double-handed backhand, a shot he has since honed into one of his most potent.

The clubhouse is being given its annual lick of paint on the day we arrive. Chairs and tables are stacked in the middle of the room while dust sheets cover the windows.

Dragan Gavrilovic - one of the members responsible for maintaining the 75-year-old club - is more than happy to down tools and talk tennis.

Pulling out a cigarette with white emulsion flicked over his fingers, he says: "When Novak was still small, from about 12 to 15, he used to come to play here and people from all over the city came to watch.

"They knew - and we knew - he was destined for big things. Everybody wanted to see him. They wanted to see history being born."

Back in Banjica, behind his old apartment block, a colourful mural shows Djokovic flanked on one side by the patriarchal grandfather he doted on, childhood coach Jelena Gencic on the other.

Locals wander past without blinking an eye. Some may not even realise Djokovic lived there, but not many.

A woman sweeping up leaves and dirt outside the one flat which has a garden stops to speak with us. "Yes, you should write about Novak, you should," she says.

"He's like from heaven. He's not human, yet he is a modest, normal guy."

She has lived here for 40 years. She points to the concrete football pitch behind us, where a few stray dogs are sleeping in the sun.

"That's where he used to play football. When he had time, of course, because he trained so much.

"Then he became famous, but he would still come here as often as he could, if it was for one day or five minutes."

The woman is reluctant to give her name and disappears back into her yard saying she doesn't want to talk any more.

But she returns a few minutes later, clearly unable to stop herself sharing the pride and love she has for Djokovic.

She was one of the many who spent nights down in the basement bomb shelter. Once that subject comes up, she retreats again.

"Let's not talk about that," she says. "It's not nice to talk about what your neighbours did in such a delicate time."

Yet she adds: "When we were there I told the younger ones to run, to leave the country. At that time we thought they will not bomb the civilians. But they did."

Nato - the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the world's most powerful regional defence alliance - began its air strikes against Serbia on 24 March 1999.

Accused of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic's regime was targeted in an attempt to force their troops out and allow international peacekeepers in, after diplomatic efforts failed.

The bombing campaign ended on 10 June 1999, when Yugoslav troops began to withdraw from Kosovo.

Nato said intervention was necessary to "halt the humanitarian catastrophe that was unfolding". But a number of attacks were "unlawful", according to Human Rights Watch - an independent organisation which investigates rights abuses across the world.

Wounds still run deep in Serbia, and resentment towards Nato - and the countries which make it up - is prevalent on the streets of Belgrade.

"We are trying to be 'part of Europe'. How come, when we are now part of Europe? How will they accept us, when we are European right now?" Djordjo Milenic, Djokovic's old neighbour, says.

"They bombed us and now they say we are friends. That's all organised by America and Britain."

Bombs hit the Yugoslav Ministry of Defence building in central Belgrade twice in the space of 15 minutes in the early hours of 30 April, 1999. It has still not been rebuilt.

Kosovo especially remains a major topic. A political message outside the Partizan Tennis Club - one of many such slogans daubed around Belgrade - reads: 'Kosovo is a holy Serbian land.'

Many feel the 'Western' media are obsessed with portraying a negative stereotype of the country as aggressive, unfriendly or hostile. That is another recurring topic of conversation in the city. And yet many others would rather move on.

"People think we are bad people," says George Mitic, a 37-year-old taxi driver.

"But they don't come and see for themselves. If you only watch the news you have a completely different view."

He tells a story from the previous night.

"I picked up some Scandinavians from the airport, they had come for business. They said they were scared.

"I said, 'why are you scared?' They replied, 'because you've had war here'."

"I told them we are open and friendly people."

Nato launched an air campaign in Serbia - named Operation Allied Force - on 24 March, 1999. It lasted for 78 nights.

Sasa Ozmo, a journalist for Sport Klub, describes Djokovic as a "national hero" who deeply understands the responsibility he has of promoting the nation's image across the world.

"But not only is he an ambassador outwards to the world, but he is also an ambassador within," he says.

"For example, there is a huge rivalry with Croatia - obviously there was the war and things stay fresh - but Novak is always very public about his support for the Croatian national football team.

"That doesn't sit well with a lot of people here, but he is trying to change perspective. He's really good at that responsibility."

Recently Djokovic finished top of a national newspaper poll which asked young people in Serbia who they looked up to the most.

"He is a huge role model. We've had some really huge athletes who have inspired generations but they haven't inspired people in the same way Novak has done," Ozmo adds.

"For example, we have a basketball player called Vlade Divac who is also a huge global ambassador and played in the NBA during the bombings.

"But Novak's range is much wider - he is a 'catch all' hero in Serbia. The way his personality is he can identify with people.

"Tennis is the country's third sport behind football and basketball - but Novak is the most popular.

Have a great evening!!!!

Yashi Kochi!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday 22 nd May 2019......yet another one!!!

Well it had to happen..another year older....not really thrilled about another number added on to the total but of course not interested in the alternative!!!!

Ok anyone who wants to know today I achieved three score and ten and then one more year!!!

Emily decided to stay home from work today and also to keep Jonah home is a gorgeous sunny day so after breakfast I got Jonah all ready and went for almost a three hour walk with Jonah..

We found another park which is quite lovely..

.he enjoys being outside and his vocabulary is really good and he especially loves dogs and likes to ask the owners what is the dog’s name!!!!

After lunch we all managed to get in one vehicle and we took the kids to another lovely park....

so nice to be warm and see the children having fun..totally surprised at all the green space and parks within 20 minute drive!!!

Tonight Gracie took me out to this lovely English style restaurant for dinner and I chose Cottage pie......very nice indeed!!

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes..I had a wonderful day!!

Yashi Kochi!!!!

Thursday 5 th January 2023…it was a great run!!!

 This was my first ever blog post back in November of 2006!!! With just a couple of days off I have written a blog every day since and I hav...