Thursday, 28 May 2020

Where'er You Walk...

Many of my friends and family are documenting their daily walks on Facebook or in their blogs. I love their photographs - of distant views, and close-ups of blossoms and butterflies, and pictures of their happy families enjoying the sunshine and the open air. 
I'm not very good at this - I frequently take so long to get a picture that Bob is half a mile up the footpath. We are very blessed to have so many lovely areas to visit round here, on the edge of the New Forest [my friend Pauline takes wonderful pictures of the trees and the skyline] Here are a few of my attempts - and notes to explain
The highly ornate design of the Lady Wimborne Bridge at Canford Magna reflects the power of landowners over British railway companies in the 19th century. Wealthy Sir John Guest, owner of ironworks in Wales, purchased Canford Manor near Wimborne – and had the bridge built to carry the new railway over the drive to his house – so that the carriages could get to his property without interruption. It is now a Grade II listed structure
Brockenhurst is the largest village in the New Forest - the ford runs through the middle of this picturesque place. Usually heaving with tourists on a warm May afternoon, it was incredibly quiet when we visited - all the gift shops and tearooms were closed because of Covid19.
'Stephen's Castle' is an Iron Age barrow at the top of an old quarry near Verwood, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Legend has it that Stephen was a local tribal chief of great strength. He was supposed to have hurled the 'Stephen stone' half a mile into Ringwood Forest, no mean feat as the stone weighs around 3 tonnes! The barrow was excavated in 1828, and human remains dating back to the Iron Age were found. Verwood once had a thriving pottery and brick industry which stemmed from the abundance of clay, and fuelled by the gorse and birch on the heaths. The quarry work was abandoned in Victorian Times.
Walking through these places with Bob reminded me of Handel's solo from the opera Semele. My mother was particularly fond of this piece, sung by the contralto Kathleen Ferrier.[I don't think Mum had a clue what the opera was about!]
Where'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade
Trees where you sit, shall crowd into a shade
Where'er you tread, the blushing flowers shall rise
And all things flourish, where'er you turn your eyes

And hello to all the new followers who have joined since Easter - I cannot keep up with you all, but it is lovely to know that you're enjoying reading this. Wherever you are, keep well, keep safe and be kind. [and Remember To Be A Lert, We Need Lerts]

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Happy Birthday, Liz!

Happy birthday Liz. It is hard to believe that we haven't been together for five months. This picture of you and Rosie in the Norfolk sunshine last week is so lovely. I keep looking at it and smiling.
Your resilience through this lockdown time has been amazing. I'm in awe of all the mothers out there who are managing to work full-time from home right now, whilst still caring for lively pre-schoolers. 
You've been brilliant about keeping us in touch via WhatsApp and Zoom etc. We have enjoyed telling Rosie bedtime stories, and sharing pictures of our activities.
My breadmaking skills have developed enormously since March- and you have encouraged and helped with that, sharing tips and swapping recipes and pictures.
Despite claiming you are 'not crafty' we have seen so many pictures [and heard her reports] of Rosie's activities with paint, and recycling, and "junk modelling" as well as learning to cook. Your daughter can now prepare as many meals as the average student arriving at Uni!
And Steph has found your support and wisdom immeasurable, through the difficult end-of-pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood, whilst isolated in this Time Of Covid. You've always been there for her, and even at a distance you are a fantastic 'big sister'
Thank you for all the joy you have brought to us for over three decades. I miss you SO much, but I am sure Jon and Ro will fill your day with love, and cake...
God bless you today and always - we love you and cannot wait till we are all together again.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

"Someone On The Phone For You, Ang"

...said Bob, entering the lounge. "Who is it?" I asked. Bob looked puzzled, put his hand over the receiver and whispered 
"It's the Hammerhead Band Woman!"
I was a little confused. I know nothing about this Rock Band - and I thought all their members were blokes anyway...
But once I took hold of the phone and spoke to the caller, everything became infinitely clearer. Nothing to do with heavy metal or ear-splitting noise. Bob's Mondegreen. He'd misunderstood what was being said - in fact it was the Hannah's Headband Woman. 
My friend helps co-ordinate the making of these headbands locally - and has some people who've made complete headbands [like me] And other people who complete one stage of the process. She telephoned on Friday evening to say that she had some packs of headbands which were all cut and prepared, ready for the machine sewing and elastic..
..and the elastic stitcher couldn't do it now, please could I help, as she was desperate. I'd only need to do machining - she has a team of ladies lined up to sew on the buttons. What could I say? I said that I had other stuff to do, but I would do a few. Which is why Friday evening and Saturday morning were spent making 150 headbands.

Next week I may start my own heavy metal group, it will probably be less stressful

Monday, 25 May 2020

Oh Crumbs!

Bob found a flour mill in Northampton which would deliver bread flour in 16kg sacks at an extremely reasonable price. So he ordered one. It has meant that I can continue to bake our own loaves, usually on alternate days. I'm not sure that once the lockdown etc is over, I shall want to go back to buying bread in a supermarket! I have been experimenting, and have made rolls, burger buns and bagels, as well as ordinary loaves. However we do seem to eat more bread when it comes as a bagel or a bun...I made the rolls quite small as we were using those in our YouTube Communion service. Here is some of my recent output

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Sunday Worship In Ferndown

This morning's half-hour service includes one of my favourite songs [Vagabonds] and a feature on The Bus Stop Club [one of the two food charities we are supporting each week through the lockdown] and a great sermon from Bob [OK I am biased, but I found it really challenging]

It's Wesley Day

Methodists the world over call this day, 24th  May"Wesley Day" - it marks the day in 1738 when John Wesley became a Christian. Wesley Day 1959 was the day on which another great Methodist, Dr William Sangster died.
I'm not a Methodist, but in 1970, I was given this book - the biography written by the man's son, published just a few months before.
I found it challenging and encouraging. Sangster was a good man, and a gifted preacher. He became the Pastor of "Westminster Central Hall" - that large place of worship close to the Houses of Parliament. During the War Years, the basement was a huge air-raid shelter, where he and his wife led a team of volunteers who looked after those who took refuge there. He was an inspiration to many Christians, of all denominations, during the war years, and afterwards. 
There are lots of brilliant stories in this little book - he had a great sense of fun [a quality sadly lacking in some members of the clergy] and his loving family showed care and hospitality to so many.
But in his fifties he became very ill, with progressive muscular atrophy, a form of motor neurone disease. He knew it was incurable, he knew he would gradually lose all his faculties, until he would be unable to breathe. His life would become locked down, more and more limited in what he could do. His attitude to this was amazing. 
He kept a diary for as long as he was able to write, and in this he spoke of his reaction to the diagnosis. He says "I made some resolutions...

  • I will never complain
  • I will keep the home bright
  • I will count my blessings
  • I will try to turn it to gain
And he did all those things - until the very end, his home was a place of joy, and there were many positive things which came out of his illness, which blessed many other people. The excerpts from the diary, and details in the book, show that he did keep his resolve. And I keep thinking of this brave man, whose unshakeable trust in God helped him through all his suffering, until he peacefully departed this life.
Perhaps during this time of lockdown I should copy out Sangster's Resolutions, and postthem on the fridge, to remind myself. My situation is easy compared to his - but these four simple statements will still be something of a challenge for me. [Especially the first one]

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Bee Thoughtful

I love bees! They are utterly fascinating I had planned to do a post for World Bee Day on Wednesday and then forgot until the evening when a friend mentioned it on Facebook and reminded me of Brian Bilston's great poem
The Last Bee
After the last ee
had uzzed its last uzz
the irds and the utterflies
did what they could.
ut soon the fields lay are
few flowers were left
nature was roken
and the planet ereft
rian ilston
Country Living magazine has a helpful piece about Bee First Aid. Honeybees and wild bees are usually left to their own device, but there are three specific situations where human intervention can help
Rescuing a drowning bee - If a bee is in water, use anything flat [large leaf, lid, trowel] to life it out. Leave the bee in full sun and offer a little sugar water
Reviving an exhausted bee - Bees affected by bad weather can be helped by a sugar water solution [ratio of 1:1] Do not offer supermarket honey, it can pass on diseases into the bee population [although not harmful to humans] And do not leave out sugar solution at other times - it may prevent bees looking for the nectar in the flowers.
Rescuing a bee from a house or car -  firstly do not waft!  Bees will see rapid arm movements as a threat. Just leave window or door open and the bee will find its own way out. Alternatively [as with spiders] Put a glass over the insect, slide a piece of card underneath. Carry the glass outside and release the bee to fly away.
Then Philip alerted me to a great little clip on the BBC news website about our ingenious  apian friends. 

Bee Thoughtful, and Bee Blessed!


Friday, 22 May 2020

Knights Of The Road

My friends Richard and Mary continue to lend me jigsaws. This time, it was two in the one box. Labelled "Knights of the Road" the pictures showed AA and RAC patrolmen of the early 1960s. "Breakdown and recovery" services have change a lot in the past half century. I am currently with LV, but I was with Green Flag, and have been with both RAC and AA in the past. Other companies are available - I do shop around for the best deals these days. 
But back in the day, there were just the two. The RAC [Royal Automobile Club] began in 1897, the AA [Automobile Association] in 1905. The AA was originally called the Motorists' Mutual Association.
Originally the officers were called 'sentries'. They wore quasi military uniforms - helmets, leather boots, and gauntlets - and rode motorcycles. Throughout the country there were 'sentry boxes' - little roadside shelters where the patrolmen could take refuge from the elements, enjoy a thermos of tea, and check their maps. Each box had a telephone and a fire extinguisher. 
By the 1920s, members were given keys to the boxes, and could use them to phone for help if their car broke down [or ring home to say they were delayed!]. Remember nobody had a mobile phone then, and not all private houses would have had a landline telephone. In 1934, one third of all cars on British roads were owned by members of the AA.
As well as a key to the boxes, members had a classy metal badge to fix to the front of the car. If a patrolman saw you were a member, he would salute as you drove past. If he did not salute, that was [allegedly] a coded message "there's a police car round the corner watching for speeding drivers"
I am just about old enough to remember the AA patrolmen on motorbikes with their brown leather boots. By the mid 1960s they replaced the bikes with minivans. People used to joke back then that the affluent were in the RAC, and the ordinary folk in the AA. We were, of course in the AA. I can only recall using an AA Callbox once- in 1974, I was with Dad in a heavy thunderstorm. Its a complicated story - but we pulled into a lay-by on the A47 on the edge of Norwich, and telephoned Mum to say we were OK and would be home soon. The AA key was then returned to the glovebox!
Doing these two jigsaws brought back good memories of long car journeys as a child, going on holiday to exotic locations like Scarborough and Bournemouth. The AA would send you [free] a wonderful route map from home to your destination - loads of sheets stapled together, with a map, and typewritten directions [imagine your satnav pictures and script printed out on paper] I was allowed to sit in the front seat and navigate whilst Mum was in the back with my younger brother. No seat belts back then! 
AA & RAC patrolmen [always men] were incredibly deferential, and always helpful. True "Knights of the Road". The jigsaw is well titled.