Wednesday, 20 March 2019

If I Had A Hammer...

When Bob left his job as en electronics design engineer, to train to become a Baptist minister, his work colleagues gave him a blue Black and Decker Workmate. A colleague told me that they didn't normally give such expensive parting gifts- but nobody could remember anyone else ever leaving the company to go to a job where they would earn a much lower salary!
Bob still uses his workmate, regularly - and laments the fact that the newer black/orange models are nothing like as good.
Rosie enjoys watching her Dad and her Grandad making and fettling things, and her Mum repairing and fixing bicycles. So I couldn't resist it recently, when I was in a CS recently and a staff member brought an item through the shop to put in the window display. It never got there - I intercepted her, and took it straight to the till!

A child's version of a Workmate, with all the tools - and with it, a tool tray containing even more tools. All this and change from a fiver! [to buy all this new would cost at least five times as much]  "Is it for your grandson?" asked the lady at the till. "No, my grand-daughter Rosie, she is three" I said. "Oh dear, I really shouldn't have presumed it was for a boy, should I?" she said, grinning. 
The parts were a little dusty, and so I brought them home and gave them a thorough scrub in the bath. When Rosie grows up, I hope she too will be as keen on "Make do and Mend" as the rest of us!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Red Letter Day

Next Monday [25th March] the prices of Royal Mail stamps will increase. It will cost 3p more to send a letter [1st class going up from 67p to 70p, 2nd class by 3p from 58p to 61p] Ofcom had ruled that prices could not go up before 1st April, but things had already been set in motion for the earlier date- so Royal Mail have taken what they hope will be suitable action. Perhaps you've already read their statement...
Dear Customer,
You may have seen media coverage around the new price of a 2nd Class stamp which is due to come into effect on March 25 of this year.Due to an error on our part,our new 2nd Class stamp price of 61p will be 1p above the existing regulatory price cap for a period of 7 days - from March 25 until April 1.We are donating the revenue that we expect to collect from the error - around £60,000 - to the charity Action For Children,which helps disadvantaged children across the UK. We apologise for this mistake,and we are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.Thank you for your continuing custom with Royal Mail.

Stamps purchased before the price rise will still be valid. As I usually post a few Easter cards and we have a number of family birthdays coming up, I need some stamps. I am buying mine this week before the prices go up. 
But I am really glad that this great charity will benefit from RM's error. You may recognise it by one of its earlier names [NCH Action or National Children's Homes] It began in 1869, when Methodist Minister Thomas Bowman Stephenson opened a children's home in Waterloo, just two years after Baptist Minister, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, opened his orphanage in StockwellIt is sad to think that 150 years later, both these charities are still working hard to help disadvantaged children in this country.
There has been criticism, from some quarters, of the Comic Relief Programme on Friday night. Some allege that the presentation of the current state of poverty in Britain was exaggerated. Others were upset by 'rich white British saviours' going to give handouts to 'poor black African children'. Still others were concerned about the promotion of 'single-use-plastic red noses'.  I find all that quite distressing. Donations over the weekend were significantly reduced from the previous CR in 2017. I hope that cynicism and 'compassion fatigue' are not going to diminish all the good work being done by CR since 1985.
Oh dear -this post began as a reminder to buy stamps and has ended in a rant about the need to be generous.  This should lighten your mood- me ten years ago being the Lady In Red supply teaching at a Leicestershire village school . I rather liked that borrowed scarlet wig["And they tell me that your husband is the minister at the chapel?" said the School Governor who was visiting - clearly unsure about this wild extrovert employed to teach for a day]

Monday, 18 March 2019

I Know You've Missed Me!

That is what this Swedish poster says. It is Lent, the traditional time for semlor buns, and the Swedes are always pleased to see this treat back in the bakery window.
Originally made just on Shrove Tuesday, they were then made on other days, at one point it was illegal in Sweden to make and sell them outside of Lent. 
Now they are in the shops from Christmas till Easter [imho much better than those over sweet Creme Eggs] Liz introduced me to this delightful treat, and for the last three years I have made a batch.[you can find the recipe here]
Although Bronte Aurell, from ScandiKitchen, says fresh is best, I found last year that there wasn't too much change in flavour if thy were frozen.
So last Saturday afternoon, I donned my posh new pinafore, turned on the radio and made 16 semlor instead of eight, portioned them up and froze them.
The two on the little tray are the ones we ate at Saturday tea-time!

Thank you to all who've sent helpful messages re the fatigue, via comments and emails. Update - just heard from GP I have a Vitamin D deficiency, so now on medication!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Hen

Another of Stanley Spencer's "Christ in the Wilderness" Lent paintings. A Russian writer has said of these paintings "Where else in the Bible does man appear in such union with the beasts, with no fear and alienation? Obviously, in Eden, where Adam resided before the fall. Christ, who came to save mankind from the curse of original sin, is the new Adam, as described in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. 
...Therefore, Jesus peacefully dwells among animals, birds, plants and with childish curiosity he peers at them, for this firstborn Son of God has found his human nature, similarity with earthly being. As a creature 'from another planet', Jesus gets used to this world, delicately delves into it, amused and delighted"
This painting is entitled 'The Hen' - a reminder of the words of Jesus in Matthew 23, as he weeps over the city of Jerusalem
"O, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
There is a proud cockerel, and other fowl, strutting behind, at the back of the picture -but Jesus encircles the mother hen and her chicks, with his whole body - protecting them, watching over them.There is care and compassion in his face. He is aware how fragile they are, utterly defenceless, how easily they could be hurt or killed. The mother hen gathers them, hides them, and she makes herself vulnerable as she protects them. This picture doesn't show 'amusement and delight' - but sadness. 
Our world has seen another turbulent week - the continued division in the British Parliament, political unrest in France, tension in the USA government, and now the killings in New Zealand. Oh that people across could gather together, united, protected, supported by the fatherly love of God, as the chicks gather under the wings of their mother hen...but they are not willing.
It was so good to see pictures of Andrew Graystone standing outside his local Manchester Mosque during the Friday Prayers.
Here is a man who takes his Christian faith seriously. "You can respond with fear, or you can respond with friendship" he said.
Lord, in a world of fear and hatred, give us your compassion - and help us to extend the loving hand of friendship - especially to those who are in need.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Flowers, Friendship And Fatigue

 As well as the flowers outside in the garden, I'm currently enjoying flowers inside the house.
My two orchid plants are both blossoming. The one on the right has been dormant for about a year, and I thought it was dead and nearly discarded it. But my good friend Jenny gave me some orchid food - and these gorgeous pink blossoms appeared unexpectedly. Thanks J!

Then in recent weeks I have received a couple of floral cards from blog-friends [you know who you are] one is a delightful decoupage in shades of peachy pink, the other a get well card with stunning scarlet poppies. Both so very pretty to look at - but more important are the thoughtful words inside. 
The older I get, the more I value friendships. I am sure you feel the same. 
A big thankyou to the people who suggested my mystery herb might be rocket. 
The leaves do not match the rocket I get in Lidl - but they definitely have the same peppery flavour.  Did you know that the Romans introduced rocket to Britain two thousand years ago? In the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to grow rocket in monasteries because it was believed to arouse sexual desires. It was often mixed with lettuce leaves in salads because lettuce has a soporific, calming effect, and the theory was that the two would cancel each other out! I discovered a crop of flatleaf parsley too - a good source of vitamin B. 
I saw the GP yesterday - he thinks I have Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, and need to rest and pace myself better. He's done blood tests for vitamin B & D deficiencies, and apologised that the NHS cannot afford to prescribe a week's holiday in a sunny climate. At least it is nothing serious or sinister - and I must just Slow Down A Bit.
I'm trying ["You're very trying sometimes" says Bob] Thank you to all my dear friends out there who have sent such kind wishes. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

The Cup That Cheers

I had a friend once who got very hot under the collar when people said "Cheers!" when they meant "Thank You!" An ardent teetotaller, she thought it had alcoholic connotations. I confess that it has never really bothered me, despite being brought up in a strictly TT home.

I frequently say "Cheers!" when I'm leaving- as a form of Cheerio, I suppose
And just occasionally "Cheers!" as a greeting to a friend
And sometimes "Cheers!" when I raise a drink to my lips [whether tea, orange juice, or wine] in the sense of good cheer, well-wishes, blessings to my [drinking] companions
But mostly I use this expression as a way of saying "Thank you!" - sincerely, but briefly and without undue fuss. 
It is good to say Thankyou - 

  • to the bus driver on the Park'n'ride,
  • to the person who helps you lift your suitcase onto the train,
  • to the shop assistant who is genuinely helpful, 
  • to the waiting staff who ensure your 'eating experience' is a good one,
  • to someone who gives you a gift - especially when it is totally unexpected
  • to the child who brings you something, or gives you a sudden hug
  • to the guy who sees you have 1 item and he has a trolleyload, and lets you go ahead in the queue
  • to the spouse who tells you that you look lovely today [when you feel anything but]
  • to the friend who treats you to a coffee and spends time in proper conversation
Some of these need a proper expression of gratitude - for some 'cheers!' will suffice. I mentioned recently doing the Ipsos Mori survey. It is the second one I have done - and when I did the first one, my gift voucher was delivered by hand by the Market Researcher along with an acknowledgement slip. I had forgotten all about it until this week. I'd tucked it in my big Study Bible as a bookmark. 
I was preparing to lead our Homegroup - we are working through Philippians. It is full of words from St Paul encouraging people to show gratitude. And my IM survey slip had a lovely word-cloud on the front. 
Isn't this super - thanks in so many languages?
And I love the little reminder of the Greek word for thank you is 
εὐχαριστω - eucharisteo, from which we get the word Eucharist, the name used by many Christians for the service of breaking bread and sharing wine.

Cheers! [and thank you for reading my blog]

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Baptist Bob Gets Very Wet In Bath

As last Tuesday was spent getting ready for, hosting, and clearing up after the Pancake Party, Bob never had a proper Day Off. So this week, we planned to do something Very Exciting on Tuesday. 
Having lived here in the South West for 4 years, we felt it was about time we visited Bath. 
We got up and set off surprisingly early, stopping for breakfast at the Fontmell Magna Post Office as it opened at 9am. We enjoyed bacon and sausage sandwiches, and hot drinks, then drove on to the Bath Park'n'Ride [situated at "Odd Down"] By the time we parked the car it was raining "straight 'airpins" as Nana would have said. We jumped on the bus [concessions for over 60's] which took us into the city centre.
It really was too wet to do very much walking around. We went into the Abbey - currently something of a building site. The floor is sinking badly so they are undergoing an extensive programme of digging up and relaying the stones.
Much of the Abbey is behind screens - you can peer through the windows to see the work. But they are clearly endeavouring to maintain all the usual activities.
A beautiful embroidery is a focal point as the altar is currently out of use. Either side of this, over the choir stalls, we admired the lovely choir of carved wooden angels.
There are hundreds of memorial tablets all over the walls and floor. It seems that the world and his wife must have come to Bath to die!
We noticed the plaque to Sir Isaac Pitman - but felt a little disappointed that it was entirely written in English. They could have put something in his language
We came out and walked through the rain, browsing in a few CS and stopping for a snack lunch. We checked out the net for ideas of places to visit. Many were either closed for the winter, or shut on Tuesdays! But we were able to visit the Postal Museum.
I was thrilled by all the stuff I learned in the Bath Museum. The first Penny Black stamp was franked and posted in Bath. The first 100 mile airmail flight was from Bath to London. 
Last Summer I took Rosie to the Children's Play Area of the London Postal Museum. She loves it there, and dashed off to put on her red tabard and hat and be a postal worker, weighing and stamping parcels and delivering them through the letterboxes.
I am afraid she has inherited my love of interactive learning environments. Dressing up is such fun!
Back in the 1700s, the Mail Coaches began their speedy service between Bath and London - much faster than the usual stagecoach [and a little less comfortable] Charles Dickens often travelled to Bath by this method. Here's Grandma in suitable garb! [Note the matching red fingernails- my 40bags-40days challenge for Friday was to clear out my makeup bag. I rewarded myself with a manicure in the evening]
The rain continued. We went back to the P&R and drove to Warminster [where my parents had their honeymoon in 1948]
The rain finally stopped, and the sun was shining. Coffee and cut price banoffee pie and more CS to browse around. Then home at last, and Bob cooked delicious steaks for our evening meal. 
We may have struggled against the wind and rain at the start of the day, but by the evening, we both agreed we had enjoyed a lovely day off. 
When I said we'd gone to the Postal Museum in such appalling weather, a friend said she hoped I didn't stamp around. I replied that I hadn't - I'd been with my own First Class Male.