Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beauty in small things

Now the weather has turned cold again, an icy wind is blowing and it seems that spring has abandoned us!

But then, walking through the churchyard we spotted this little huddle of ladybirds on a gravestone.

How sweet are they??!

The second group seems a little bit more organised! LOL 

These little guys certainly brightened up this cold, miserable day, and gave me hope that spring IS on its way. After all, the ladybirds should know, shouldn't they?

Bad day ... or was it?

Today was a rubbish day, and nothing seemed to be going to plan!

Firstly, I had planned to go our for a run in the morning, but I never got myself ready to go ... and then it started raining.

So hubby and I decided to go for a walk in the woods instead, looking for early mushrooms ... but on the way in the car (we only bought it last week!)  the oil warning lamp came on, and we pulled over because we didn't want to risk damaging the engine. - So instead of a walk in the woods I got to run to find a public phone - without success. (Luckily, with my community based job I know many people in many parts of town, and one of the day centres was not too far - so I walked there, where I was offered the use of the phone and the toilet and a lift back to the car. Thank you, Julie!!)

The AA man came quickly and brought us back home, but we spent the rest of the day getting the oil lamp switch fixed ... only to find then that the heating is also faulty and spraying cooling water everywhere, and it will need to be sorted out too. So a phone call to the car dealer, who sold us the car, was in order! Tomorrow we are going back there to get it sorted out.

Not wanting to leave hubby alone with this, I had to cancel a dentist appointment which I had tomorrow morning.

So it seems to have been a very hassly sort of day!

But if I look back, there were many blessings:

  • Friends and colleagues I can call on in need
  • A speedy and friendly AA emergency service
  • My hubby and I pulling together and working very well as a team, supporting each other when needed
  • For every problem there was a solution at hand
  • Coming back home, our daughter cooked the evening meal for us all. Thank you, sweet pea!

Time to be grateful!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week.

Many Christian denominations remember on this day Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem - in the knowledge that within days events will turn and lead to Jesus' arrest, crucifixion, death and eventually his resurrection. 

"Holy Week is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and Good Friday, and lasts from Palm Sunday (or in the Eastern, Lazarus Saturday) until but not including Easter Sunday.It commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday."

Although our (secular) society seems to highlight Christmas as the main festival of the year, in the Christian calendar Easter is by far the more important occasion to remember.

Easter represents all Christianity stand for, and I love to spend some time during Lent - as especially Holy Week - to reflect on the enormity of the events which took place 2000 years ago ...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is about to start in 20 minutes here in the UK!

The WWF encourages as many people as possible to turn off their lights for one hour this evening (from 8.30 PM) to save energy and reduce the carbon footprint - and to protect endangered wildlife and people.

You can sign up here.

I guess that means I could turn this computer off too ...

Pray as you go

A friend shared this lovely resource with me.

It is set up by the Jesuits in Britain.

There is a prayer, Bible reading, some spiritual music and the opportunity to meditate on and prepare for the new day every day of the week. It can be accessed via the website or downloaded onto the mp3 player.

I have found it a great way to prepare myself for the day, and to keep focused on God and his Word. 

Friday, March 26, 2010


"God is the place that always heals over, however often we tear it."

(Don Paterson, from ‘The Stream’, 2006)

Meet India ...

... the new puppy we sponsor through Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Isn't she sweet???

India will live with a puppy walker for the first year, learning basic commands and how to deal with a variety of social situations in order to prepare her for her specific training as a guide dog for the blind.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In the garden

At last spring seems to have arrived, and it is time to do some gardening.

The trench for the runner beans was already dug a few weeks back and is filling up with kitchen waste (apparently runner beans like it that way!).

Here is what's happening in the garden so far:

The chives are starting to grow again.

The winter lettuce has survived very well in the cold frame, despite the long and cold winter.

The swiss chard has also survived.

Although I am expecting the plants to bolt soon, the leaves are still good for eating now, and a great replacement for spinach in recipes.

I split the rhubarb in January. Now the new leaves are emerging.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I am good at ...

  • knitting
  • cooking
  • planning and completing tasks
  • being organised
  • feeling empathy for others
  • helping others
  • keeping fit
  • sticking to rules
  • loving
  • giving

(I felt the need to remind myself of the things I am good at. It seems much easier to think of those things I am not so good at. Why is that, I wonder?)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lent charity - Smile Train

It has become my practice over the last few years to give some luxury food item or another up for Lent, and to give the money I have thereby saved to a charity of my choice.

This year my chosen charity is Smile Train UK,  a charity which focuses on cleft lip and palate repairs.

Clefts are a major problem in developing countries where there are millions of children who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Most cannot eat or speak properly. Aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job. And face very difficult lives filled with shame and isolation, pain and heartache.
The good news is every single child with a cleft can be helped with surgery that costs as little as £150 and takes as little as 45 minutes.

Smile Train describes their mission like this:

-To provide free cleft surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries.
-To provide free cleft-related training for doctors and medical professionals.
Until there are no more children who need help and we have completely
eradicated the problem of clefts.

Just look at the difference a cleft lip and palate repair can make:

Gabriel, before the op...      

... and after                       

Maria, before ...                                    

and after ...                             

Please consider supporting this charity. It costs £150 to repair a cleft lip and palate.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stainless steel




I would rather be like the living willow



      willing to bend

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Today we have been married for 11 years. Add to that the 13 years we lived together before we married, and we have been together for 24 years!

It has not always been easy, and we do have our differences - but even in times of difficulties I know that we are good together and that we complement each other!

I am not a great one for writing poems, but on this occasion I have tried to put my feelings into words.

Walking together

sometimes pulling away

sometimes walking in unison

Maturing together

sharing life's experiences


Enjoying the sense of myself

but finding completeness with you

Friday, March 12, 2010


Our wedding anniversary is tomorrow, but today is the day the children are at school and we have the day to ourselves - so we spent it exploring Bedford. It's a place we normally drive through to go elsewhere, but we have never spent any time visiting.

We visited St Paul's church and the John Bunyan Museum, where we received a brilliant guided tour by a delightful elderly man.

We also spent a little while looking at our old friend, the river Great Ouse - looking wider and grander than it does further West.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't great, but it was lovely spending a quiet day together.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The old mill

Today we walked past the old mill at the river Great Ouse. It is long disused, and has been converted into apartments. 


The weir, which used to supply the mill is still there. 


The great thing about going for walks is how you notice the small things along the way. Such as peering inside a hollow tree along the edge of the river.

And spotting the newly emerging buds on the trees. 

Frank Skinner on Christianity

Frank Skinner is better known for being a comedian than a Christian, so I was interested to come across his opinion piece on Christianity in The Times Online:

To many British people, Christianity seems like a weird but unexciting theme park. Personally, I like our ever-dwindling status. I even like our ever-dwindling numbers. There was a time when social pressure made people go to church. If anything the reverse is now true. Most adults you see in church nowadays are there because they want to be there. That’s not decline, it’s progress. The wheat has been separated from the chaff. We get quality, not quantity, in the churches and the chaff can enjoy a nice lie-in.


Lord Carey feels that Christians have been too soft. He said that if you behave like a doormat, you get treated like one. I’m a little wary of muscular Christianity. It’s been used to justify everything from the Crusades to the shooting of abortion doctors. It seems to be in direct contradiction to “Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”.

This is the doormat as positive role model — a doormat who’s more concerned about the “welcome” than the muddy feet. Surely the central image of Christianity is someone who can shoot fireballs out of his fingertips allowing himself to be nailed to a wooden cross — submission as the ultimate show of strength — love as impenetrable armour. Most British Christians are badly dressed, unattractive people. We’re not pushy and aggressive members of society. We’re a bit like Goths — no one can remember us being fashionable and we talk about death a lot. I love the glorious un-coolness of that.


I went to a debate this week. The motion was “England should be a Catholic country again”. I ended up voting against. The marriage of Church, any church, and State seems alien to the teachings of Christ. Power corrupts and British Christians should be happy to continue relinquishing it. The Catholic Church lost more than it gained when it got into bed with the Emperor Constantine.

Christians tend to save their best work for the “voice in the wilderness” genre. We are most impressive when operating as a secret sect, kneeling in small, candle-lit rooms and scrawling fishes on walls. I’m enjoying this current dose of persecution. It’s definitely good for the soul.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The woodpile

The local Council has been busy clearing the undergrowths and and trees and hedges along the roadsides.

A good opportunity for us to forage for left-over pieces of wood, which we can collect to build up our woodpile. After all, the next winter is not too far away! (Haha!!)

Armed with our bicycle trailer, a splitting axe and investing an hour of our time and labour, and the woodpile has grown again. And it has cost us nothing!

It will take the summer to dry out to turn into wood good for burning in the wood-burner.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Walking into spring

Today was a beautiful early spring day - still cold and blustery, but also sunny. The sun is now noticeably gathering strength!

I enjoyed a long walk along the river Great Ouse with my 13-year old son. It's a great opportunity for us to spend time together, relax and chat - and, best of all, end with a cup of tea and cake in the local cafe.

I am really, really, REALLY looking forward to spring now, to the emerging of the first green, to the birds nesting and us planning our garden.

Nature seems to be at the ready - just waiting for the right day to spring into life ...

I cannot wait!

A New Commandment

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

(John 13: 34-35)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My church family

I am grateful and feel privileged to be part of a wonderful church community, which aims to worship God and serve the local community at the same time (after all, when we serve our neighbours, do we not serve God too?) 

We provide breakfast on a Saturday morning, and everybody is welcome. A couple of homeless guys are amongst the regulars.

At the same time we are a collection point for Food Bank, a UK charity which works in conjunction with health and social services to provide food parcels to people in financial difficulties.

I feel very welcomed and accepted into my church family. Being part of the Body of Christ truly is like being part of a great family!

The more welcomed and accepted I feel, the more my desire grows to reach out and make others feel the same; be they friends or strangers.

Perhaps the love of God is best felt, when it comes from fellow human beings ...?

Just as God loves us, so we should love each other.

Just as God forgives us, so we should forgive each other.

Just as God protects us, so we should look out for and protect each other.

I thank God for having brought me this far on my faith journey! I thank him for having brought me to my church community. I pray that he will continue to nurture me and mature me in my faith, and that he will use me for the purpose he has intended for me ... and I pray that I will never lose sight of it!

Thank you, Lord.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Left-over Friday

Here is another go at using up the left-overs in the fridge before going out to buy food for the next week.

This time the recipe is Mixed Vegetable Curry.  Useful for almost any left-over vegetables.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Anna!

My daughter is 16 today ... and I feel old!

It doesn't seem like yesterday that I gave birth to our first-born.

Here she is, when she was 18 months old:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Car-free working and Walk to Work week

I work in a community team for adults with learning disabilities, and much of my work consists of visiting people in day centres and in their own homes across town.

At the moment that often means me using my car to do those home visits, but I am hoping and trying to decrease my car use and rely more and more on alternative transport, such as public transport, bicycle or my own two feet!

I am in the process of finding out whether my employer (the good old NHS) would support me in those endeavours. You might think that, being the national health service, they would encourage people to go car-free ... but the perception that the car is the only realistic and most efficient mode of transport is deeply ingrained in people's minds.

So I am slowly gathering evidence about car-free options and their benefits, and about projects and incentives in other areas. (Any suggestions and advice is welcome!!)

Walking Works is one website, which I have come across so far. Did you know that it is Walk to Work week from 26-30 April?

"Thoughts come clearly while one walks" - Thomas Mann