Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Happy Birthday, Steph


Is it really thirty years since you were born? Can that tiny baby have really grown into a beautiful woman? And this coming year is full of special events for you – I am so proud of you for being fit and healthy enough to run in the London Marathon in the spring- so thrilled that in June you will marry your beloved Mark.

May the Lord bless you and take good care of you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord look on you with favour and give you his peace.

Wherever you are, what ever you are doing, I will always hold you in my heart.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Pretty Flamingo!

Next years Women’s World Day of Prayer has been planned by the women of the Bahamas, as regular readers will have gathered. A piece of artwork, based on the theme [Jesus’ words in John 13 “Do you know what I have done to you”] and featuring Bahamian images has been especially commissioned for the event. It’s called Blessed.


Can you see the feet of Jesus at the bottom? – the artist wanted to represent  the birds bowing in adoration, service and sacrifice. I was incredibly impressed when I visited Folkestone for their Preparation Day on Saturday – they had a 3-dimensional  representation of this painting which was created by one of the ladies there.


That was my 4th such day this autumn – I have two more to deliver before Christmas [Lewisham and Norwich] My Aygo is certainly clocking up the miles.

I was pretty exhausted when I got back to Liz and Jon Saturday night with a very sore throat too. I fell asleep during Dr Who – woke at 9.45pm, went promptly to bed, and slept right through till the morning. I never got back to Kirby in time for church – but rolled up at 11.45am for the after service coffee, and a slice of Gwen and Ken’s Ruby Wedding Cake.

I did go out with Liz late on Saturday afternoon, to the Tower. Photos of those amazing poppies will follow later!

Sunday, 19 October 2014


I am setting up this post in advance - as I am not sure where I shall be on Sunday morning. Friday I leave for London, to stay with Liz, then Saturday down to Folkestone for another WWDP Preparation Day, and at some point I shall return to Kirby Muxloe. Depending on various factors [weather, fatigue, traffic etc] I shall make my decision later as to when I return to the Midlands. But I so want to be in church on Sunday morning. Bob is preaching through the book of Nehemiah – this week is chapter 2. Last week’s sermon was great [find the podcast on the KMFC website] But there are 6 words in ch2 v6 which always challenge me. Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?”

Lewis chess king and queen

I am not going to write a whole theology based on those six words – but I often wonder about them.

  • Why does it tell us she was beside him?
  • Was she involved in the discussion – plying Artaxerxes with questions - Ask him how long he’ll be gone for, when is he coming back? Who will be cupbearer while he’s away?…
  • Was she happy and encouraging about the planned trip – or full of anxieties?
  • Was she just there in the Throne Room to look pretty – or did her husband value her thoughts and ideas, even though she was a ‘mere woman’ in a male dominated society?

But the very fact that the passage mentions her presence is important for me – it reminds me that marriage is a partnership. It works best if we work at it together. That doesn’t mean we have to do everything together, or like exactly the same things [he has Star Trek, I have Downton – he likes modern art, I prefer the Pre-Raphaelites – he has cheese on toast, I have Marmite…] but I think it does mean we make space for each other to enjoy different things, as well as sharing time doing things we both like.

I have been stupidly busy this term. I choose that word carefully – all my supply teaching and WWDP commitments have come together and not left me much space to breathe. I know it will ease up by early November, but I have seen an awful lot of motorways in the past few weeks, and slept in beds all over the country. Bob has been patient as ever, and tolerant of the neglected ironing basket [even more neglected than usual] On Monday night he cooked a wonderfully romantic candlelit dinner, all ready for me on my return from Somerset. That was totally unexpected, and such a lovely thought. I hope to return the kindness once my schedule lightens [about the time his workload changes up a gear, as Advent approaches]

Nehemiah’s story shows how everyone gets involved in rebuilding Jerusalem, and together the work gets done. Whether it is marriage, family, friendship, church fellowship, workplace or community, if we see it as a partnership and work together tpo support and encourage, then we will achieve more. Annie Valloton’s image of ‘bearing one another’s burdens’ is brilliant


I am not sure how long my Kent-Leicestershire journey will take – or when I will get back. But I’d like to be back in time to be sitting in my pew for the sermon if I can.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The In And Out Song

Here’s Monty- Liz’s lovely cat. He is a London cat – so never goes outside [his life expectancy would be reduced significantly if he did] My overnight stays in Elephant and Castle always include a time of staring [him] followed by stroking [me] and some snuggling up together on the sofa.


So for the many cat lovers among you, here’s a Garrison Keillor song you might just enjoy [thanks Jim for pointing me to this one!]

They say you are either a ‘cat’ or a ‘dog’ person – but many of the women in my family seem to manage to be both [or neither]

I want to go out - open that door if you love me
Gotta go out, want to breathe the air
I gotta get loose with that blue sky above me
I been here long enough, I got to be there
I want to come in - what's the matter, can't you hear me?
I want to come in, I am your cat!
I gotta get warm with the people
I been gone a long, long time and now I'm back
And now I want to go out - I'm an independent creature
I am a cat - we're the wandering kind!
It's the call of the wild - I gotta get back to nature
These paws are made for walking and now it's time.
OK, I'm back, but not for long I'll soon be going -
Give me a bite now and I'm on my way
Now open that door and I'll - good grief, it's snowing -
Open up - lemme in - I'm back to stay

Well, now it's stopped, so thanks for all your lovin' -
Gotta hop that freight, I'm a ramblin' guy
Gotta hit that road - it's in my blood or somethin' -
I know you understand so please don't cry
Hello it's me - I knew you'd probably miss me
So I came back, because I missed you so
But I can't stay long, so honey come and kiss me -
I think I hear that lonesome whistle blow
I'm on my way, got to leave my mom and daddy -
Got to say goodbye, want to hear that highway hum
Now I'm all alone, I'm feeling so unhappy -
It's time that I went back where I came from
Yes, it's lime to go back, time to put that road behind me -
I drifted away, but I'm going back now.
Here's the little white house -
Here s that picket fence and the ivy -
I'll scratch on the door - meow
It's me...lemme in...I can hear you talking in there
Hey – Mom'  All right, I get the joke!
Open up the door. Meow

Friday, 17 October 2014

Scents Of Wonder


Year 1 are studying ‘Ourselves’ at school, and this week we were considering our sense of smell. We had little plastic pots with perforated lids, and the children sniffed and debated what was inside. They all got onion, garlic, orange, and chocolate. Some got coconut, and shampoo. Nobody got cloves, cinnamon, herbs or Vick’s Vapour Rub – however a few said the cinnamon “Smelt like biscuits/cookies” .

vicksOne enterprising 5 year old wrote “cold” on his sheet for the Vick’s. “It smells like what I smell like when I get a cold” he said. It is good to realise these modern Mums still recognise the power of Vapour Rub!!

Perfumes are so evocative – we talked about things that smell, and most of the suggestions were food related…then they were more creative – flowers, grass, and ‘the sea’ were mentioned. “Dog Poo” suggested someone. A mark for thinking of a non-food item- but that is not one we will draw a picture of on the worksheet, thankyou!

What fragrances do I enjoy? Lots of them…

  • fresh coffee
  • newly baked bread
  • roses
  • woodshavings
  • beeswax candles
  • leather upholstery in posh cars
  • creosote
  • Savlon liquid*

But I don’t like the odours of

  • blue cheese
  • cigarette smoke
  • rancid milk
  • musty books
  • boiled eggs
  • strong beer
  • mothballs
  • TCP

*Savlon liquid always reminds me of the Maternity Hospital where I had Liz – in those days they kept you in for a week! I was just so happy she’d been born safe and well. Perfumes can bring back memories, good and bad, as Proust recalled.

Which odours bring back memories for you?

Are there smells you love?

Or ones you hate?


Thursday, 16 October 2014



I have yet to see the poppies at the Tower of London – maybe I will be able to manage it somehow this coming weekend. I am  going down to a WWDP Day in Kent, stopping overnight with Liz en route.


One of my colleagues suggested that the girls I teach on Tuesdays might like to make their own poppies this year. So that is what they did – we took red hearts cut from felt, decorated them with beads, then sewed them together with a central black button. It was interesting to see how they interpreted the idea  - here are four of the finished ones [the others remain WIP to complete later]

poppies oct 2014

[Thank you Sandie- that red felt was a piece you gave me!]

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Write On!

I love writing – not just selecting the words to say, but the physical act of doing it. Keyboards don’t have quite the same thrill as making marks on a surface. Apart from typewriter keyboards – I love bashing my digits down on the keys then slamming the carriage across at the end of the line, and making the little bell ring!


But in July I found something which really brought back memories. I was sorting out some old crayons, and there in the box was a white chinagraph pencil.  Did you ever have one of those [or are you too young for such old-school equipment?]


Before the days of whiteboards, and dry-wipe markers, these were the tools we used to write on hard surfaces - especially glass or china [hence the name] but it was not indelible – and detergent plus elbow grease erased our scribblings.

So I wrote on the mirror in the hall “I have found my chinagraph pencil” and then I decided to see how long lasting the waxy words would be. I went outside, and carefully wrote a message backwards on the window of Bob’s study. That way he would be able to read it when he sat down at his desk.


I have to report that twelve weeks later, the words are still there! [We don’t clean our windows very often] That’s despite heavy rain of Biblical proportions in recent days. I wonder if words from a marker pen would have lasted that long?

drywipe stuff

I confess that I am not enamoured of the current use of whiteboards and drywipe pens in school.

I can see that it is useful in a phonics lesson to ask the 25 children sitting cross-legged on the carpet to write a word on their board and hold it up so you can check they've spelt it right. But

  • they will erase it using their sleeve or finger [black marks everywhere]
  • their sitting position doesn’t make for neat writing
  • gripping those chunky pens in little fingers doesn’t help good handwriting either
  • there is no sense of permanence about their work
  • teaching assistants seem to spend ages at the photocopier, copying the best work from the whiteboards so there is a permanent paper record of the little darlings’ ‘good sentences’
  • the tops do not go back onto the pens properly, so the pens dry out, and every lesson starts with checking who has not got a working pen!

Is there anyone else out there who still has a chinagraph pencil – and if so, where do you use it? and what do you write?