Saturday 30 April 2011

Beside The Seaside

Well, here we are at the Norbreck Hotel in Blackpool


I will say very little about this strange edifice, other than Alex the Hotel Inspector has not visited yet!

We had a brilliant journey up on the bike. I wore ear-buds, and listened to Ed Stourton on Radio 4, doing an excellent commentary on the wedding.

I even sang along to the hymns inside my crash helmet! Once here [and having acquired extra shower gel – one tiny bottle will not be enough for two of us!] and suitably refreshed, we went downstairs and met lots of friends – old and new.

The first session we attended was Prism, which is a sort of interactive alternative to the Main Session [Bob and I had been asked to go to this one, and be on the Prayer Support Team] I made a poster to sum up my meditations for the evening.


After that was the After Hours Session. The Norbreck promises ‘Entertainment Every Night’



What did we get?



Baptist Ministers in wigs and shorts!!

Seriously though, we are having a good time, and I shall post a more coherent blogpost later. I am typing this in a busy corridor with people stopping every 2 minutes to say Hi! There is no Internet access except in public areas [I will write next post in my room then just come downstairs to post it]

Bob has just informed me that he was asked if it was true I’d been coming to these annual beanfeasts for about 40 years – and if so, could I please go to the Office at 10.15, when the guy from Local Radio will interview me. They think it will add ‘colour’ to the piece. At least I have a stunning figure and lovely face for radio. Nobody has mentioned a performance fee!

Off to Morning Session…

Towers Of Strength

Do you recognise these three?


First of all, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I love Paris, and one of these days will visit this lovely city again.

I was there in July 1981 [the day Charles and Diana got married] and in April 1992 [on my 37th birthday] and in August 2006 [our first holiday with motorbike and tent]

Paris is a truly romantic city, IMHO. Built in 1889, the tower is 324m high



Next, the Crystal Palace TV mast. We lived near here when Bob was studying at Spurgeon’s College. I confess that years later, I convinced one of Liz’s schoolfriends that you could see Paris from certain high points in London – as we drove round the corner, I pointed to this mast in the distance and said “Look, the Eiffel Tower!” I love London. Currently the 3rd tallest structure in the capital, this was built in 1956, and is 219m high.



Finally the Blackpool Tower – because this weekend we are in Blackpool for the annual Baptist Assembly [going up on the bike!]Blackpool isn’t my favourite place, I admit.

I am setting this post up in advance, as I have no idea how busy I am going to be – lots of worship sessions, two Connexion meetings, mission stuff – plus meeting friends old and new, eating together …and maybe even a quick paddle in the sea. This tower went up in 1894, a mere 158m high.

I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 18.10

The name of the Lord is a strong tower,
The righteous run into it, and they are saved

clondalkin towerBut these towers don’t look like they’d give much protection – how about the Clondalkin Round Tower, near Dublin [we visited this in 2008, on our last bike&tent holiday]

This looks good and sturdy, and ready to protect the monks from marauding Vikings! 27.5m high [admittedly that is tiny in comparison to the three above] it was believed to have been built over 1200 years ago.

Expect updates on Blackpool later….

Friday 29 April 2011

May God Bless Them

God of all grace,
friend and companion,
look in favour on William and Catherine
and all who are made one in marriage.
In your love deepen their love
and strengthen their wills
to keep the promises they will make,
that they may continue
in life-long faithfulness to each other;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Remembering too my friend Kirstie, who is marrying Yoni today. God bless all those making their vows – and give them grace and strength to keep their marriages strong and happy.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Carpe Diem

Over at Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping, Lakota has a fascinating post today about this Gainsborough portrait which has set me thinking hard…

Gainsborough Mrs Moody

It is from the Dulwich Picture Gallery, [a great place to visit] and shows Mrs Elizabeth Moody, [1756-82]. In 1779 she married Samuel Moody, to whom she bore two sons, Samuel [b.1781] and Thomas (b.1782). An X-ray has revealed that this was originally painted as a single portrait, the sitter's right hand raised to finger a string of pearls at her chest. The portrait in this state was probably painted c.1779/ 80. The children must have been added after their mother's death – probably around 1784/5. Their father remarried in 1786. Thomas apparently had an aversion to his step-mother, and by giving this valuable Gainsborough to a public gallery, he would have prevented it from passing to her four children.

The amazing thing about the picture, as Lakota points out, is that “the mother is shown holding the children at an age when she never knew them. Would Samuel and Thomas have grown up adoring this last connection to the mother they would never know, as we cling to photographs of family members we have lost? Or did it act as a memento mori – ‘remember you too must die?’”

A century later, the Victorians certainly made a big thing about death, and mourning the dead [think of all those items of Black Whitby Jet Jewellery, and lockets containing locks of hair, which are forever appearing on Bargain Hunt] Lakota shares an amazing pair of photographs from her own family collection. And other Victorians took some rather disturbing photographs of dead family members[warning – you may be very upset if you click here]

But maybe there was some sense in their attitudes

  • it is important to remember those who have died [The memory of the just is blessed says Proverbs 10:7]
  • it is important to support the bereaved [Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted says Matthew 5;4
  • it is important to work hard today – you may be dead tomorrow![Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. reminds the preacher in Eccles 9;10]

It is too easy, in this day and age, to fall into the trap of thinking we will live forever. Pension funds are apparently collapsing “because everyone is living into their eighties and nineties” said a man on the radio the other day. No, actually, they aren’t! People get ill, people have accidents, and quite a few never make it even to their threescore-years-and-ten.

Easter Sunday means we can rejoice in a hope of heaven – but it is always sad when someone dies, especially if they are young, or if, like Mrs Moody above, they are a parent of young children. Those who are bereft will be grieving and must be comforted.

But none of us knows how long we have – so let us live each day to the full. My Mum was forever quoting “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Jesus will last”

So I think that now I should stop listening to the radio whilst reading blogs, and go and do something more productive!!

Teddy Bears’ Picnic

We have some children with special needs joining our school next week – and I was asked if I would dress two teddies for them. It was felt that if they had their own teddies to cuddle, they’d be more confident about coming to school – and if the teddies were in uniform, that would help the children to wear their school sweatshirts.


I was given two bears and two sweatshirts and I made paper patterns.I thought a tracksuit would be a good idea. Found myself reminiscing that I was just five years old myself when my grandmother taught me how to make a trouser pattern for dolls’ clothes! She was one amazing lady.


I cut out the pieces and sewed them up


They have quite roomy necklines so that they are easy for the children to dress/undress the bears. I do hope these little bears help to make the children feel welcome, and enjoy their new school.

I have certainly enjoyed making the outfits!

Wednesday 27 April 2011

It’s A Wrap!

Some of my cookbooks are beginning to look a little grubby. Years ago, I always covered cookbooks with stick on transparent Fablon [sticky-back-plastic as they called it on Blue Peter] but I stopped doing that in about 1995.

Three of my later acquisitions, the ones I am currently using a lot, needed some sort of protection. Floss mentioned covering hers in oilcloth – so I took the books…

jamie 30

bake rachel allen


and covered them with some pretty cloth from The Range


There’s only one problem…



Which one is which?

They’re all the same size, so I need to make some sort of identifying labels for the spines.

But at least they are wipe clean now.

I had half a metre of this plastic coated fabric, and it cost less than 35p per book to make the covers. Like Floss, I really enjoyed this speedy little DIY project, and they do look so pretty on the shelf.


pebbles pvc

The Range has a great…errr…range…of fabrics like this. There is one fabric with a pattern of pebbles – maybe I should cover the two cookbooks which live at Cornerstones with that design?

Easter Saturday

Last week, Bob conducted a funeral at Bramcote Crematorium. I have lost count of how many services he has done recentlycrem, but this was a new venue. He said it was an extremely well organised crem, in lovely surroundings.

When he came home, he said that en route, he’d noticed a very pleasant looking park close by.

So on Saturday, we went, with Steph, to investigate.

According to the websiteBramcote Hills Park is approximately 21 hectares in size, comprising a mix of woodland and parkland.  It is a focal point for community participation in leisure and recreational activities and is a much appreciated facility for dog walkers, parents with young children and families.


There are many key and varied features to the park, including the Holocaust Memorial Garden, the cycle path and the open parkland.  Historic features include the ice-house, the site of the former Bramcote Hills House and the walled garden.  Facilities include a new exciting play area, trim trail and cricket square, as well as picnic areas and seating.  The interpretation panels throughout the park help illustrate the area's history.


We certainly enjoyed ourselves – we had a good wander round, then went off to nearby IKEA for a brief shopping trip and lunch 

IKEA was very successful – we got a voucher when we bought lunch – so next time we will get our lunch money back against purchases. I have wanted a small whisk for some time. Lakeland charge £6.99 for two. I got a set of mini tools for £4.07 in the children's department.

lakeland miniwhisk

ikea duktig tools

I have been thinking about making another patchwork quilt. But the wadding/interlining I bought for the two Cornerstones ones was quite expensive so I have delayed starting another quilt project.

In the bargain basement I found a huge bedspread [260 x 280cm] , which I decided would make an ideal quilt interlining.alina-bedspread-and--cushion-covers

‘Alina’ sets are usually sold with two cushions for £61.27. the cushions were missing – so I got the spread for just £4.50!!!! Steph bought a cheese grater and a few other little bits for her new flat.

Then we returned to the Park, as the Easter funfair had opened. Steph and Bob were very keen to ride The Waltzer



[No, Bob didn’t lose his panama – he remembered to give it to me before the ride started] We didn’t ride the ‘Super Bob’


It was gloriously hot, so we bought ice creams from Mr Whippy. The vendor was a real Italian Ice Cream Seller, and I recalled “Oh, oh, Antonio” – another of the little ditties of which my Dad was so fond…

The full lyrics are here – but I found this clip of Sir Richard Branson’s godfather. Like Dad, he was born in 1924. This is just how I remember my father singing this, if we ever saw an icecream seller [Italian or otherwise]

Does anyone else remember this song??

Although we were not out for very long, we had a marvellous time. I should like to go back to Bramcote Hills Park again, and explore some more. Today we saw the bluebells, and the people under the trees practising Martial Arts – and lots of happy children in the playground [free] and in the funfair [pricey] – but I am interested in the Ice House and the Walled Garden, and the Holocaust Memorial.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

A Variety Of Mondegreens?

There must be a proper name for this phenomenon. I know what a Mondegreen is [eg the Prairie Tortoise so often mentioned in churches] a word read aloud, which is heard wrongly

prairie tortoise

…but what I am struggling to define is when the word which gets read aloud wrongly in the first place. Often it is a word which has one spelling, but can be pronounced in two ways – each having an alternate meaning. Common ones are


The prince gave a deep bow, and the princess tied a bow in her hair

prince bow


The miserable girl moped round the house while her boyfriend rode away on his moped.



The snake began to slough off his old skin as the horse sank down into the slough



Reading station was full of commuters reading their newspapers



The congregation sat with their mouths agape as the preacher declared that he no longer believed in agape, the love of God.


But there are other words which sit there on the page and just refuse to make proper sense. Many of us have been mizzled by misled, I am sure!

And the current ‘synthetic phonics’ approach to teaching reading is no help whatsoever, because English is such a gloriously irrational language.

My little rant has been brought on because I came across a word the other day which I just could not work out. The word was


was it




or what?

it appears there was an optional hyphen missing, and the word was actually


to rhyme with wild, i.e. made into an island. [Apologies to all you Matthew Arnold scholars, who have read ‘To Margeurite’ and so knew the word already]

matthew arnold

I have never been that fond of MA’s poetry myself, or maybe I’d have encountered this word before.

But somebody tell me [Liz, do you know?] what this sort of mispronunciation is called?

Some are often deliberate – picturesque as picture-skew and antique as anti-queue.

Our family refers to Spud-U-Like as Spudd-oo-lickay.

Are there deliberate mispronunciations in your family?

…and please don’t point out to me that enisle is an anagram of senile, I am feeling enough of a dotty old lady already!

Five-A-Day, I’m Lovin’ It

When the weather is warm and sunny, it is so much easier to eat fruit and veg, and I really enjoy salads [I’m trying to be abstemious with the rich dressings though]

Vetumnus was the god of fruit and veg in mythology, and Arcimboldo did this intriguing painting around five hundred years ago

vertumnus arcimboldo



Sadly I see many families around me whose diet is defined more by Ronald McDonald than by Bob Flowerdew**.

Andy Council has produced this contemporary Vertumnus.

vertumnus andy council

It is quite alarming how little greenstuff there is in the fast food world!




**You just have to love a gardener with a name like Flowerdew – especially when he lives in Norfolk and his first name is Bob!

Monday 25 April 2011

If You Want To Get Ahead, Get A Hat!

Bob is taking Steph back to the station now – it has been brilliant having her with us over the weekend. [I always hate it when the girls go back. I am sure other mothers do not get so emotional, she’s only going to London, and I will see her again in July if not sooner] and I am busy wrapping parcels.

Helen’s Giveaway is all packed up and ready to go to the Post Office, along with another parcel. At the beginning of Lent, I mentioned the Lands End Campaign for hats for the Sailors’ Society [here] Well, I have knitted six hats in six weeks…


They were very quick to produce, and I had plenty of wool in my stash to use up [the red one is not as pink as it looks in the photo!] Bob thinks he would like one for the winter. Maybe I should make all the men in the family a hat for Christmas? They look as if they would fit snugly under a cycle helmet if you needed extra warmth. I don’t think I will do any more knitting for a while – in the warmer weather I find my hands get too hot and sticky.

Keeping a straw hat handy rather than a woolly one during this sunny weather. I have discovered that it does help prevent headaches if I keep my head covered and my face shaded.

straw hats

Bring back proper hat-wearing, I say - let us have no more of these frothy feathery fascinator fashions! Kate Middleton may like them,


  … but they look suspiciously like illustrations from “Fly Fishing” by J R Hartley to me!

flyfishing hartley

trout flies

Sunday 24 April 2011

It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming!

That was the title of a sermon by Tony Campolo some years ago. Our Easter weekend has been amazing…

First there was more ‘footing the ladder’




Bob and David hung two massive gold foil curtains either side of the cross at the front of the church. This was for the Good Friday Service. For our ‘Churches Together’ united event, Bob felt we should have a ‘Tenebrae’ service. The distinctive ceremony of Tenebrae is the gradual extinguishing of candles, leaving the church in darkness – symbolic of the darkness surrounding the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Not very easy to do when the service is at 2pm in the afternoon! Hence the curtains, illuminated by Bob’s stage lighting rig. Throughout the service, the lights were gradually dimmed – and by 3pm, it was noticeably gloomier.

I found it all very moving.


Also in the afternoon, Hayley and her team were downstairs, running a Good Friday Club for the children. They did some great crafts, including two crosses, which decorated the church on Easter morning.


[If you look carefully, you can see the first says ‘Jesus’ and the other is made of handprints]

Saturday, Barbara and her helpers decorated the church with baskets of flowers [these will be distributed to sick and housebound friends]


We were at church early this morning for Easter communion, then we shared breakfast. Thank you Janet, David and co, for making it look so welcoming – and cooking kippers, eggs, porridge and more!


Sunday morning was a great celebration of the resurrection. Bob made a fountain in church, with Mentos and Cola! This required much preparation [and one very anxious wife fretting about the new church carpet] I took no pictures during worship – but here are the experiments in the garden beforehand.[scientific explanation here]

Are you ready? Here we go, 2 litres of coke, two Mentos…



Now we try with three Mentos


Yes, that is spectacular enough for the service!

Do you know what our minister did in church on Easter morning? He produced a fountain over three feet high with coke and mints! It was amazing…

Even more amazing, that FIRST Easter, Jesus burst out of the tomb – alive again, death conquered…

Don’t just tell people about the uncontainable fizz – tell them that the tomb could not contain the Saviour – that’s the really important message of Easter!


Bob took a basket of eggs to share with everyone afterwards

This evening, friends from Hucknall came to share this…


Ben, Vanessa and the others from Seymour Road Baptist, arrived early and set up all their gear. The evening was indeed full of lights, music and drama – telling the Easter story, particularly from the point of view of Judas. It was challenging and thought-provoking, and we were grateful to these young people for bringing this to us.


We ended the service with the hymn “In Christ Alone” [which we’d also sung in the morning.]

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

I pray that your Easter has been full of joy and hope too!