Monday, 30 June 2014

Life Savers


This is Beachy Head in Sussex- it gets its name from the French Beau-chef – beautiful headland. It is a lovely place – white cliffs, and an amazing array of wildflowers growing on the clifftop.  Somewhere I have a photo of my Dad and his brother, standing on the shingle near the lighthouse, taken in the 1930s.

bhctBut the cliffs here are over 500 feet high, the highest in mainland Britain – and this is the country’s most popular suicide location. For 10 years, the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team have worked here, talking to people, rescuing and helping them – and they have saved over 2500 lives.

The charity was started by a Pastor, who had a vision one night of people patrolling the cliffs, seeking and helping two people contemplating ending their lives. He could not rest until he had acted on this, and set up the group in reality. BHCT works with HM Coastguard and the local Police, they are involved in Search and Rescue, and counselling work – and frequently bring people ‘back from the edge’ [literally] and help them to rebuild their lives and find a reason to go on. The teams are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, patrolling 6 miles of clifftop for a minimum of 100 hours each week.

QAVSThis year, BHCT received the QAVS for the phenomenal work they do, patrolling the cliffs, covering 1900 acres of ground, day and night. There have been over 270 rescues each year since 2009. You would have thought this would be a great time of celebration – many lives saved, and a prestigious award. But sadly that is not the case.

Much of their funding has dried up – although the majority of Chaplains are volunteers, there are a few paid members of staff. They have a Director [who also does 24 hours of patrol cover each month] 2 full-time paid frontline staff, 2 part-time paid frontline staff, a paid administrator – and 14 unpaid volunteers.

bcht team

But today will be the last time for some of the paid staff, and redundancy notices have been sent out. The charity has always been cautious about advertising themselves, for fear that this will publicise the site as a place to end your life. However the Trustees have reconsidered their position – as BH is now known internationally as a suicide hotspot – and the Trust is in urgent need of funds if it is to continue to provide this vital work.

I have, in the past, talked with people who are contemplating suicide – but usually in a warm house, or perhaps on a park bench – and removed from the location of the act. To be at the top of the vertiginous cliffs, in high winds, maybe even at twilight, or in the dark – and sit talking with truly desperate people who are complete strangers – that demands real courage and special gifts. I have the greatest admiration for these folk, and their unconditional love.

bhct clifftop

They need £75K urgently if they are to go on saving lives. Please take a minute to read this article in the Daily Telegraph and then consider if you could spare a fiver [donation details here] If all the people who read this blog during June sent just five pounds each, that would make a huge dent in their deficit. One final piece from the BHCT website.

Ultimately everything we do cannot really be told just by statistics. On New Year’s eve we received an email from someone we rescued earlier in the year. She said “I didn’t think I would be around to see 2013 and am now looking forward to the challenges and fun of the year. So thank you for giving me back my life.”

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Journey…

That’s the theme of the service at church tonight, led by Abi and the Young People. They have invited loads of people, and worked really hard, praying and planning and preparing… when the publicity says this, I look forward to an interesting and exciting eveningyouth service donuts

I have no idea what the YP are going to say – but I have been thinking lots lately about the Christian life being a journey. So often we go along our way, almost unaware that Jesus is walking beside us, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. I read an utterly brilliant quote in someone’s blog this week

…I’d love to have a thunderbolt, “Jesus appeared in a Victoria Sponge and told me he loved me” story to share. For me though it’s been a slower, more gentle thing…

bbc victoria spongeFor most of us, I think that God’s challenges come in the quotidien moments of life, and we don’t catch on immediately. But He’s still there walking along beside us. [Mind you, since I read this, I have been looking at all cakes in a new light, for crumbs of divine wisdom.]

frankfurt airport

On our way to Austria, bad weather meant we had an unplanned four hours stopover at Frankfurt Airport. It was good to remind myself that God knows what He is doing and sometimes apparent hold-ups and diversions which might initially frustrate us are part of His Plan – and one day we will understand them. Bob was preaching recently about Paul’s inability to get into Bithynia [Acts 16], and how God used the change in travel plans to get the gospel into Macedonia.

broken case

On our journey home, the handle broke on one case, and the zip on the outer pocket of another came unstitched. This was probably caused by rough treatment pulling the bag rapidly over bumpy terrain, and over-packing [far too much was stuffed into too small a space]. This damage was our own fault.

On the journey of life, we must learn to go at the right pace, and learn to leave unnecessary baggage behind. Hebrews 12 says

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of faith

This journey of faith is not a sprint, it’s a marathon – are you coming along with us?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

5K, 50K, 500K

This week I did Year 1 supply in two different schools. The second [yesterday] was covering a teacher unexpectedly absent, with no work prepared. The class had visited the local Sikh Gurdwara in Thursday afternoon, so it was suggested that I might like to spend the morning talking about the trip and getting them to produce a ‘recount’ [that means ‘write a report’ in normal English] It was clear that they were not too sure about what they had seen, but they did know there were ‘5Ks’ [read about it here]


So in the lunch hour, I made a ‘cube-net’, which the Teaching Assistant copied during afternoon registration – and then we all made little 5K cubes [ design, technology, art, craft,maths and RE! They just don’t pay me enough]


The children worked really hard and produced a tower of cubes

That is the 5K of this week

The 50K came on Thursday – driving home from school, my little old blue Matiz  [December 2002]  actually clocked up 50,000 miles.

I was passing the church at the time – so I stopped and photographed the milometer in front of me, and the new KMFC noticeboard alongside me. [spot our little QR code in the corner]


It seemed quite pleasing to be in this spot as the car reached this stage in its life. I hope it has plenty more miles in it yet. And the 500K?

I was really tired coming home from school so I stopped at a Polish shop, and bought a huge doughnut for 49p.


That has to be about 500 calories – glazed with sugar icing, and candied orange peel, filled with a glossy rich custard… I cut it in half and shared it with Bob. I did so enjoy it with my after-school cuppa.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Playing The Spoons

I love spoons – especially wooden ones. Not the regular boring machine-made ones for stirring cake mix, but rather those which have been made carefully, by hand, ones which can be held in the hand, with smooth handles and curved bowls…

IMG_25171975 – a boyfriend gave me this Welsh love-spoon. The two hearts means ‘you are my equal in love’. It originally hung from a 3 link chain [allegedly meaning ‘we will have three children’] The chain, along with the bloke, have long since disappeared!IMG_2518

This one dates back to 1979 – handmade in Africa, the bowl is coconut shell. It was one of the first ‘Traidcraft’ products I ever bought. I love its clean lines and simple shape. IMG_2519

I acquired these two in 2002 – they came from Bob’s Mum’s kitchen – two mustard spoons [I have the Belgian ceramic jars that go with them]

Flat and functional, and good for serving small quantities IMG_2520

2014 -These last two were made by a friend of Liz- spoon making is his hobby. Liz gave them to me in May. We have already decided the larger one belongs with the salt pig – much nicer than the cheap plastic scoop which was there before.

Spoons are great – here’s the Spoon Council ad-  No Spoon, No Joy!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Green Leaves Of Summer

My favourite green leaf this summer, comes in a bag – I have become very fond of green tea. I am not going to bore you with all the theories about why it is good for you – claims that it is full of anti-oxidants, and it helps you lose weight, fight Alzheimer’s, prevents cancer, improves circulation, lowers cholesterol, reduces diabetes risk, and even “reduces your risk of death” [sorry folks, that one is clearly wrong!!] No, I started drinking it because

  • I like the taste
  • It has less caffeine than regular tea or coffee
  • I drink it without milk – so it is convenient to take to school, ensuring I always have the means of making a hot drink.

But, I have discovered a couple of other benefits –

  • it freshens your breath [unlike regular tea and coffee with milk]
  • If I make some at home, I can pop the used tea bags in the fridge. These are wonderful for soothing puffy eyes [and a good excuse to lie down in a darkened room for fifteen minutes whilst they do their magic]

mocha cortadoMy other hot drink of choice this summer is mocha cortado. But as I do not plan to hand over lots of money to Costa, we’ve been experimenting. Bob has come up with a good ersatz version – take a cup of black coffee, add a spoonful of basics instant drinking chocolate and stir briskly. I quite like this, mid afternoon, to perk me up a little.


Do you have a favourite summertime drink?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

I Rarely Take A Bath

…but that is because I usually have a shower [quicker, uses less water etc.] When I do, I enjoy some bubbles – I buy the large economy plastic bottle of ‘muscle relax foam bath’.  It is too tall for the bathroom cupboard, and usually stands on the corner of the bath – but isn’t that pretty. So when I bought a new bottle recently I decided to be a little more creative. I dug out some empty bottles from the box in the garage [this is the ‘too pretty to consign to recycling just yet, but maybe one day…’ collection] and refilled them.


Now they catch the light and look really pretty on the windowsill.

Bob suggested recently that we had rather too many slivers of soap lurking in soap dishes. He was [as usual] quite right. I collected all the bits and refilled the dishes with new bars. Then I blitzed them in my processor.

blue bath stuff & soap granules

Now I have a jar of soap granules in the Futility Room all ready for handwashing delicates. We take soap for granted these days – it is inexpensive and readily available. I recall reading about Jack the Ripper when I was a teenager – one of his victims had 6 small pieces of soap in her pocket, another was involved in a fight over a bar of soap just a few days before her murder. That was back in the 1880’s, just about the time that William Hesketh Lever was starting his business which developed into the multinational company Unilever. There is no excuse of lack of cleanliness now!hot bath quote-002

By the way, ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ is not an excuse for washing the car on a Sunday instead of going to church. This verse is not in the Bible. It is an old Hebrew proverb, quoted in a sermon by John Wesley.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Exactly one hundred years ago today, poet Edward Thomas, and his wife Helen were on a train, travelling to see his friend, and fellow poet, Robert Frost. This poem was inspired by that journey- redolent of a quintessential English summer afternoon. I have loved this poem since childhood – and share it with you on its centenary

Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop - only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.


This is the station sign, and bench [bearing a brass plaque inscribed with the poem] These were relocated to the village bus shelter, when Dr Beeching closed the station in 1966. The village has another literary connection - Jane Austen made several visits to Adlestrop. where her uncle was the rector. It is believed the house and grounds of Adlestrop Park were the setting for her novel Mansfield Park.

Sadly, Thomas never saw his poem published- it first appeared in print just three weeks after his death at the Battle of Arras in WW1. This poem is his legacy – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Peace Work

IMG_2499Yesterday afternoon I went over to Market Bosworth Chapel, because my friend’s son was being baptised. It was MB Festival weekend, so I popped in to look at the quilt display [I’d visited this last year too] 


I was particularly taken with the pieces made as part of the Afghanistan Inspiration project. The good ladies of MB each took a square of fabric embroidered by an Afghan woman, and incorporated it into their own stitching.


Do check out the AI website. I met an Afghan family in the Salzburg hostel for Asylum Seekers last week, so this project was of particular interest.IMG_2501IMG_2503IMG_2504IMG_2505IMG_2506IMG_2507IMG_2508IMG_2509

To The Water, It Is Time*

When Maggie stopped overnight with us before our early start for Salzburg, I wanted to leave her a drink of water beside her bed.  But I do not have a fancy carafe. There are some lovely ones out there on the market

I couldn’t afford either of these two, costing around £50 and £40

posh chicago bedside carafe £50


Or these at £30 and £20 [I wish we had Crate and Barrel in the UK!]

korcarafe £30

c&b bedside carafe £20

Desperation, and a look in the cupboards led to inspiration. I took my IKEA Ensidig vase [£1] and put an  IKEA glass [50p] on top. It looks almost as stylish, and does the job beautifully. You probably have two pieces of glassware you could put together like this.

ensidig £1


*Old joke - it is alleged that when Napoleon boarded the ship taking him to exile on Elba, he said to the naval officer by the gangplank…

“A l’eau, c’est l’heure”

Sunday, 22 June 2014

I Say A Little Prayer For You…

One of the Bible Studies in Salzburg was about friendship. We were each given a little wooden ‘handbag friend’ – the idea being that you keep it in your bag and tell it your troubles when life is tough. “You can personalise it, draw on a face, stick on some hair, give him/her a name” we were told. Personally, I didn’t really go for this idea. If I have problems, I tend to tell Jesus, my best friend, about them [the Baptist in me rebels at the idea of little wooden images!!] But here is my little friend…


…she is standing on the shelf directly above my PC, next to my Lubbesthorpe prayer stone. I have put her* there to symbolise all of you – my blogfriends. She acts as a reminder to me to pray for you, and your special needs. She does not have a name, because she is representative of a vast number of people – but already I have discovered that when I look up and see her there, I find myself thinking of someone in the blogosphere who needs a prayer. Prayer is a very practical way of showing our love for someone – and anything that makes me slow down in my busy day and come to God with concerns for my friends is a habit to be encouraged

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

*sorry Gaz, and other blokes reading this, you men do get prayed for as well, I just felt she looks female! I appreciated Kezzie’s post during Lent when she offered to pray for people – she ended up both praying for my sick Aunt and visiting her because she was close by. Please email me if you’d like prayer for anything important to you.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Strigine Strangeness


A bizarre tweet [tu-wheet?] earlier this week suggested that the Labour Party were proposing that everyone should have their own owl. [btw, strigine  means ‘pertaining to owls’, I just looked it up!] After much hilarity, a party spokesman said this was incorrect, some evil old bird had hacked in to their Twitter account.

3562298927_aef41d3cda_bWhat should it have said?

Maybe it was that we all need our own towel fans of Hitchhiker have known this fact for years. But it would be useful if the state provided them for us


Maybe it was cowls - the cost of heating our home sis going up and up – we need protection from the elements. Or maybe they mean cowls for our chimneys, assuming we can afford to have a fire in the grate?

egluPerhaps it should have been fowl not owl – my dream of keeping my own chickens could come true at last – I could have a stylish eglu in the back garden and fresh eggs every day [as the song says, how do you like your eggs in the morning?]

oliver 'more'

Did they miss another initial letter from the word- we all need our own bowl -  so that we can go out begging?

Just realised that short eared owl is an anagram of …

O Ed, rather slow!

ed milliband owls mail