Tuesday 30 June 2009

Springs and Kings and Things

DSCF0040 You remember I posted a picture of these Benecol bottles about three weeks ago?

Well today I did the next stage of preparation for the Holiday Bible Club crafts with them.


I'd spent Sunday evening watching "Kingdom", and winding little springs from some craft wire. Then today, I mixed up some Plaster of Paris and fixed the springs into the bottles.

DSCF0015 Then I inserted a pipecleaner through the top of each bottle.

Once everything had set - which was fairly quickly in this heat, I put the heads on!


On Day Four of the club, the theme is Christmas, and I thought we should make Kings/Wise Men. I remembered that Steph had found a craft idea for her Sunday School class, a couple of years back, DSCF0018 where she made Nodding Solomons [he was definitely a Wise King] using these little bottles. They nod and shake their heads, and are generally very cute!

The original idea came from this site.


So now I have 100 Kings ready to be dressed and decorated by the children. Someone gave me 50 short lengths of gold ribbon recently - cut in half with pinking shears that will give me 100 little crowns for the kids to stick on. One Woman's Trash is truly Another Woman's Treasure.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang had his Terracotta warriors

terracotta warriors2

And the Madwoman of Muxloe has her Benecol Bobbleheads










Like Macbeth, I am definitely suffering from a "heat oppressed brain" today, I feel!

Monday 29 June 2009

Good Sports!

DSCF0015 Here is the wonderful Pirate Ship which the PFA  recently  provided for the school field.


DSCF0016 And here is Bob under a gazebo, doing the PA for school Sports Day.

It was BAKING hot, and we were very glad of the shade.


The rubber safety mats which we put over the cables got very warm, and smelled quite awful! Nearby the Scoring Team kept all the marks recorded efficiently on a laptop



Lots of parents and grandparents came to support the children, who circulated round the field in their teams scoring points at different activities.

It was a very successful afternoon, and I hope left everyone in a positive frame of mind for tomorrow's Ofsted.

But I'm glad I am not in tomorrow...


The First Figs of the Season

DSCF0014 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.

Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops

This is Blogpost #500 - halfway to a millennium! And this morning we harvested the first figs on the tree. A sign of God's continuing grace.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Sunday 28 June 2009

Peace, Goodwill and Sunshine

Off to preach at Stoneygate Baptist this morning. Everybody was very welcoming and after the service it was good to chat with people over the cups of [Fairtrade] tea and coffee. The building went up during the first world war, and has some wonderful architectural details. Behind the communion table are some wood panels

DSCF0017 I am not sure when the inscriptions were painted - but it is interesting to think they might first have been done during The Great War.


The roof is supported by columns, with carvings at the top. Apparently there was a delay in getting the steel for these because


of the War, so the Hall at the back was completed before the Chapel itself.

Outside, the brickwork is very typical of its period. The building was opened by various Baptist worthies including W Y Fullerton [who wrote the hymn "I cannot tell" which is usually sung to the Londonderry Air]

Inside there is a photograph of the opening ceremony.

I suspect that Princess May of Teck in her Toque is lurking in this picture.


[I have always been fascinated by the idea of a Princess of Teck in a Toque - sounds like she ran on clockwork!]

Enough of the architecture and history - the current congregation are friendly and eager to move forward. God bless them in that, I say!

God bless my friend Elizabeth too - she is back from her work at the Hebron Mission School in India for a few weeks, and the family kindly invited us for Sunday lunch. Which was really useful- on a Sunday when we are both preaching, lunch can sometimes be a little haphazard!


Here's Elizabeth with parents Gwen and Ken, and Gran Maisie [and Bob] enjoying the hot sunshine after lunch. And here's Kandy


One very playful dog, alongside a doggy sculpture, in their beautiful garden


This evening I enjoyed Bob's sermon from1 Kings 18 about Obadiah [not the prophet, the Civil servant at the time of Ahab] We sung some great hymns, including "I'm not ashamed to own my Lord" - the version from Redemption Hymnal with the chorus "At the Cross". Which is actually mixing two different Isaac watts hymns up, I think, but never mind. We had a good sing, and I thought of my friend Charlie in Manchester who died this week, and I am confident he will be singing up in heaven now. [Charlie was a great friend of Ivan from Norfolk, whose funeral I went to earlier this year]

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

OK, I know the last line of this is a bit weak and only put in for the rhyme [nobody is "happy all the day" if they are honest] but this hymn is one of joyful enthusiasm and confident faith.

I read in the paper that Richard Dawkins is organising some Children's Summer Camps to teach them about atheism. I just feel so sorry for that man - what will they learn ? - that there is no God of Love, no Heaven, no ultimate justice, and no way of redemption. How sad for them!

I know he thinks believers like me are deluded - but right now, I have the peace that passes understanding, and joy down in my heart, and bright hope for tomorrow, and a mighty Saviour - and I think I will stick with all that, thank you very much!

Saturday 27 June 2009

From the Channel Four Newsroom?

I wish I didn't feel that sometimes this is how they produce the bulletins [although I suspect that for very famous people, they have obituaries and film clips already prepared]famous person dead newsroom












[Cartoon from Stereotypist]

So Long, Steve!

DSCF0019 Today was the farewell service for Steve Mantle, one of our East Midlands Regional Ministers, who is off to South Africa to work with the Shine Foundation.

Here he is with his Mum, at the end of the service held at Melton Mowbray [Which describes itself as "UK's Rural Capital of Food" - because of the pork pies and stilton cheese, I suppose]

As with all such events, it was good to catch up with friends and hear everyone's news. As we were not giving a lift to anyone [although there was a good crowd from KMFC in attendance] Bob and I decided to go on the motorbike. It was my first trip on it this year, as it hasn't been out much due to battery problems [finally we gave in and purchased a new battery yesterday!]

DSCF0018 Here's a picture of Bob going off on it this morning. By this afternoon, it was raining, so that meant more waterproof clothing! But it was good fun nonetheless.


Loads of people took part today-  but I couldn't say who they were, because nobody was actually introduced, and there wasn't a printed order of service. Which was a shame really. Who were they all?


This morning, whilst Bob was out, I sorted out some financial admin jobs. Decided that we needed to be much more diligent about spending if we are going to meet our newly acquired mortgage commitments over the summer. So Bob returned to a house festooned with posters!

I love being a Supply Teacher - but unfortunately my regular outgoings have to be met from an irregular income ! Whilst I am confident that the Lord will provide, I am conscious that I must be responsible about money too.

In honour of our visit to MM, we ate a pork pie this evening. Someone told me last year that pork pies can be successfully frozen if you wrap them first in greaseproof, then tin foil, then clingflim. I got this one on offer a couple of weeks ago, and knew we would not be eating it immediately, so I put it in the freezer. It seemed to work OK and tasted fine!

Foot and Mouth Disease

image Lucy has a great post this weekend about thoughtfulness in blogging.

She says "Choosing a public blog is a deliberate decision, and it’s a great medium for interaction of thought. Within this, I want to have the same care with my speech as I would if I was face-to-face with a person, having the same respect and the same wisdom with my words. I want to be honest and I want to aim for transparency in thought and faith – while at the same time retaining a level of sensibility and self-knowledge."

I agree with her sentiments - and as I am rather busy today and do not have time for a carefully considered blogpost, I would encourage you to go and read hers!

Friday 26 June 2009

Loose Bottomed Tart*

bake rachel allen We have been enjoying some lovely soft fruits from a friend's garden recently. I cannot decide which is my favourite fruit - the strawberries seem to have been especially good this year. I had some blackcurrants in the fridge, and decided to use them up in a cake.

I modified a recipe from my Rachel Allen book - she uses 12oz cherries, but I think any juicy fruit would work.

12oz fruit [weighed without stones]

5oz self raising flour

pinch of ground cinnamon

2oz caster sugar

1 egg

3½oz melted butter


1 oz EACH of plain flour, caster sugar, cubed butter

¼tsp cinnamon.

8" diameter loose-bottomed/springform tin

  • Preheat oven to 180'C [170' if fan oven] butter sides of tin, and baseline
  • If using cherries, cut in half
  • Sift flour, sugar, cinnamon in large bowl, ,make wall in centre
  • Combine milk, egg, melted butter in another bowl, then stir into dry ingredients to make thick smooth mixture. Pour into tin. Spread fruit evenly over top.
  • Mix topping ingredients in northern bowl, rubbing with fingertips to make crumb-like mixture. Scatter over fruit.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes till golden brown and skewer comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in tin. Remove to wire rack.
  • Dust with icing sugar and serve

Recipe says 'serves 6' but it looks quite rich, I shall aim for 8 slices. Cold butter straight from the fridge can be grated into the flour for the topping. But tonight was very hot, and I found it was going soft really quickly!


I hope Bob gets back from Worship Practice soon, I think it is time for tea and cake for supper!!

** Back in the 1980s when I used to watch Pebble Mill at One, the resident chef was explaining a similar recipe and said "And for this, I need a loose bottomed tart tin" and the BBC actually received complaints about his impropriety!

All Sewn Up! [for the time being]

After a final session on the machines, I finished all my sewing tasks and put them away and reclaimed the dining room in time for lunch. I began by mending a jumper for a friend [it was black, so no satisfactory pictures there!] then made a bag for my friend's little girl to keep her dressing up clothes in.

DSCF0017 It is really just a glorified pillowcase with handles - not exactly the sewing project of the century. Normally I put drawstrings on a nag like this, but as she is only 3, I decided just handles would be safer.

Having the embroidery machine does make it easy to produce special personalised gifts!

She is only just into role-play and dressing up, so I ran up a quick princess cape as well on the overlocker.

DSCF0018 The hood weas a rectangle 30cm x 75cm, seamed up the back, and the cape itself was a piece of fabric 110cm x 75cm.

I rounded off the bottom corners, gathered it along the top, and sewed the gathered edge to the bottom of the hood. And attached a button

DSCF0019 DSCF0020

Finally I sewed some labels for the play. Last year I made these...


Except this year's play doesn't have railwaymen - just two taxi drivers.

[No I haven't worked out where that fits with Robin Hood either]

So new labels needed


DSCF0021I shall sew these on by hand next week when I am in school. [Mr McG is the Head Teacher at school]

I know I have to sew up some stage curtains for Holiday Club, but that can wait [and may need to be done at the church, where I can spread out the fabric across the floor, there is so much of it!] but for now, the machines are all in their cases and we can eat in a civilised fashion again.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Hot Weather and Hard Work

DSCF0015 Wednesday was the day of the funeral for our friend George. He had been a market gardener, and the family wanted 'bright flowers' in the church.

The service went really well - lots there, and some lovely old hymns.

After that it was Sewing Club - and the Last Pair Of PJs got finished! Hurrah!

DSCF0018 Now the girls are working on making needlecases.

We are using some ideas from Natalie's blog,  Cinderberry Stitches.

It was good to see how well the girls have taken to doing embroidery - when we first began, they wanted to machine everything, and loathed hand-stitching!

Then we had our first Holiday Club Staff Meeting, and an opportunity to display this year's craft activities and give out the Tee-shirts [thank you Genesis for being so efficient again]

Today I was teaching in the morning. School was buzzing with news of the upcoming Ofsted. I came home at lunchtime, and after lunch made some more 'hoodies' for the play.

DSCF0019 These are more colourful than the first batch of grey ones- but that is because I was using up some fabric to hand [a book of curtain fabric samples]

Apparently in the market scene, some of the girls need small drawstring bags to hold a few coins. So I was asked to produce a few.


I didn't want to spend a lot of time on these, so I used the black floral fabric sample, and sewed up a simple rectangular bag. The back of the fabric was plain - so I turned the top edge over and zigzagged it. Then I simply cut a couple of slits each side and threaded through some braid which I found in The Stash.

All done and dusted - and still time to visit the Care Home with Bob for a Communion Service and drop in on the Kidzone BBQ.



It has been been extremely hot today, and I feel rather tired now. I think I only have four relatively small outstanding sewing jobs left now, so I'll crack on with those tomorrow and then reclaim the dining table for meals  [until it is over-run with Holiday Club Craft Stuff]

Wednesday 24 June 2009

What's in a Name?

debretts This coming Sunday I am preaching for the first time at another local church. I have just had an email asking me how I want to be announced. Last week they said "Our preacher next week is Bob Almond's wife", but Elisabeth felt that just being labelled "Bob's Wife" wasn't quite right. Her husband suggested "Our Friend Angela" - and that didn't feel right either. I checked out Debrett's online Guide to Forms of Address. That didn't help - they don't even acknowledge the existence of Nonconformist Ministers, let alone their spouses!

Bob and I decided that "Mrs Angela Almond, from Kirby Muxloe Free Church" is probably the most appropriate. Not that it matters much anyway - I am more concerned that our attention is focused not on names but on worship.

Which leads me to another conundrum -  If a Mayor is addressed as "Your Worship" should an Admiral be addressed as "Your Warship"?

Tuesday 23 June 2009

The End of The Race

birds eye peas Birds Eye Peas- sweet as the moment when the pod went POP!

The man who wrote that tune, Steve Race, has just died. I remember he once said on 'My Music' that he made more money from those few notes than JS Bach made in his entire lifetime!

What a crazy society we have


steve_race & co How many others remember that wonderful corner of English Eccentricity that was "My Music"?

The erudite Amis, the avuncular Wallace - and the irrepressible Nordern and Muir, with the gifted Race keeping them all in order. the programme ran from 1967 to 1994.

What fun it all was!

Relaxation Therapy

DSCF0024 It is amazing what 36 hours of rest and recuperation can do! We got to Cornerstones, and there was the cooker all installed and working - thanks to my Brilliant Brother! Bob put up the hood on Monday.

Then he went into the loft to sort out the TV aerial. Up there, he found all sorts of strange items left by the previous owners - including a key-ring, which I have immediately requisitioned for the garage padlock key.



Isn't that great?

I wonder how long 'trust' has been lying up there in the dark between the joists?

We took with us this time a chandelier.

gospel chandelier It is called "Gospel" and is from IKEA. I first saw these years ago, and declared I really must have the Gospel shining out in my home! We finally purchased one which was in pieces for next to nothing in the Bargain Basement of the Croydon store, in the early 1990s.

Sadly, in nearly twenty years, we have never had high enough ceilings to hang it safely. I suggested we might try it over the dining table at Cornerstones - but it doesn't look right there either.

So whilst I am glad that we have found "Trust" I am sorry to report that "The Gospel" has gone back into its box, and will remain in the garage a little longer, not shedding its light anywhere. What kind of hopeless failure at evangelism is that??  Maybe I should use it for a Children's Talk sometime [and somehow justify the £5 I spent on it]

I took loads of pictures of the rooms as they are just about ready now, and I cut the grass [after a fashion - gardening's not my thing]Bob relaxed with his new Musicademy Guitar Lesson DVDs


Then we returned some other borrowed DVDs to Richard and Sarah [I love her new mini!] and had a little drive around the villages, stopping in Reepham to buy some meat for the new BBQ.

DSCF0033 We had a lovely meal sitting out on the decking, and agreed it was a very relaxing break, even if very short.

We saw some fun things in Reepham, including a Mini Moke



What a fun way to travel - but in the summer only, I think!



And we bought peaches in a greengrocer's shop with a clever name



Looking at Meloncaulie Rose reminded me of a song I learned 40 years ago, and I dedicate this little ditty to my friend ElizabethD over at her charming blog FrenchVillageLife , because this song should be sung to the tune of the French Melody "Frere Jacques"

Do try singing it!

Life is but a,

Life is but a

Melancholy flower, melancholy flower

Life is but a melon -

Life is but a melon

Cauliflower, cauliflower!

Songs Of Praise [but no Aled Jones!]

DSCF0014 The sun shone really brightly on Sunday afternoon, so I put on a hat and we went off to the SOP service.

This hat is at least 20 years old, it used to belong to my Mum.

It was originally a 'Breton hat' - but this summer, I turned down the brim, and tied on the pretty scarf my sister-in-law Denise gave me breton hat for my birthday.

Bob was wearing his extremely fetching panama hat, looking like he was off to Lords for the cricket. I was surprised that there was not more headgear in evidence. To sit in the sun like that for an hour would give me a headache if I did not have a hat on. However, the assembled company seemed fine, with or without millinery, and the singing was good, and the cream tea was delicious. Thank you Gwen, Brian and co for all the arranging...

That's the church buildings the other side of the wall...


Paul and I were taking photos at the same time! Here's Bob in his hat, looking back at the Sound Tent...


Even then I never managed to get everyone into the pictures.


The service lasted about an hour, and there was lots of singing - favourite hymns chosen and introduced by the Carey Gardens Residents, and input from 4 clergy [two Baptist, two Anglican] - and we had another opportunity to make donations to Tom and Alex and the East Africa Playgrounds.