Thursday, 23 October 2014

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red

logoThis exhibition at the Tower started on August 5th, and continues until November 11th. Princes Harry and William, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen, Prince Philip, and hundreds of others have been to see it. And last Saturday afternoon, Liz and I were able to go as well.yeoman warder

It was around 5pm and there were hundreds of people there.


We liked the way the stems were different lengths, which made the surface look like waves across the sea, and the way the flowers appear to flow out of the building down to the ground



The archer was there on the roof, ready to repel invaders


Liz insisted on taking a photo of me – she argued that there are very rarely pictures of me on the blog, just the places I visit and things I make. That’s because I am not given to taking ‘selfies’!


But here is proof that I was there, and did get to see this amazing installation. All the poppies have been sold already, and will raise an awful lot of money for some service charities. Read all about it here.  We both felt too tired, and Liz was full of cold, I had a sore throat, so we went home  early.

We did not stay for the Roll Call and Last Post at sunset. But I am glad I went. It was very moving – and although I had seen pictures, it was nothing like the impact of being there. Thanks Liz!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A “Heads Up” About Hats

age-ukJust a reminder that once again AgeUk and Innocent Smoothies are working together to raise awareness, and to raise funds for the elderly this autumn.

You still have time to knit a bobble hat or two for a drinks bottle. Hats must be sent in by November 14th. It took me just a few evenings whilst watching TV, to make a dozen woolly titfers. I used up some odds and ends of wool and a few pompoms from the stash.


You can find some patterns here – I always use the   simplest “Doddle” pattern because I find it is quickest. Knitting in stripes helps make the hats look more interesting and also makes row counting easier. I can knit and stitch up a couple of hats in under an hour [that’s one episode of Downton or Grantchester**!] 

Full details of where to send finished hats is here. For every hat-on-a-bottle, AgeUK gets 25p. The wool for these were tiny scrap balls – and none of it was in sufficient quantity to make anything else I would consider usable or wearable, and the postage was minimal. But that is £3 which might help towards providing a pensioner with a hot meal, or much-needed money advice, or an afternoon at an OAP social club, or transport to an appointment.

innocent hatsAnd if you buy the smoothies, you are helping too – and getting a pleasant drink and a useful egg cosy!

**I do think the 1950’s knitwear in Grantchester is excellent, don’t you?

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?