Monday 31 August 2015

Boys And Girls Come Out To Play!


I’ve gone on about EAP before, this charity, founded by Steph’s good friend Tom Gill* does a phenomenal amount to help children and young people in Africa to enjoy good, safe play [website here] We were going to my great-nephew Sam’s Thanksgiving party, and the invite said “Don’t bring any presents – he has enough toys to last till he’s 16”

So I decided instead to give an EAP token. I sent off a cheque, and received a selection of cards to total the amount sent, with smaller information cards inside.


In Sam’s name, a Tyre Den, and Elephant’s Play Area will be built, for children who have very few play opportunities.P1020096P1020095

I think these vouchers are a great idea [they are £5 and £10 value]



*If you watch “Dragon's Den”, you may recently have seen ‘Mad Marc’ Wileman, showing his ‘Sublime Science’.

Marc is another Kirby Muxloe guy, and great friend of Tom’s.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Ten Weeks Ago!

Time flies- but at last I have some of Steph and Mark’s official wedding pictures- here’s just a few of them. I just have to post this shot of the groom’s fantastic shoes – the soles were bright green!


The bride being met outside the church by her Pastor [who’s also her Dad] The happy couple walking down the aisle after the ceremony. Standing outside the church [more bunting!] Cutting the cake with the Great Sword!

from facebook2

The guys [Mark’s brother and best friend were the two Best Men] and the gals [friend Lucy, sister Liz, cousin Lucy, SIl Emma]. Arriving at church in Uncle Adrian’s MG. Making their vows. The Church Bible – 1 Corinthians 13. Everybody outside KMFC

from facebook1

The first dance – two lovely young people, blissfully happy, and in so much love with each other. A wonderful day full of happy memories.


Saturday 29 August 2015

Wellington’s In Need Of Rubber Gloves!

apsley houseFrequently when driving through London, I go down the side of Hyde Park and round past “Number One London” Apsley House, for many years the home of the Dukes of Wellington.

They say it was called No. 1 because when built in the 1770s, it was the first house passed by the folk coming from the countryside through the tollgates at Knightsbridge

Wellington-ArchIn the middle of the busy traffic island opposite, stands this arch, designed by Decimus Burton, known as the Wellington Arch [or sometimes Constitution Arch, or Green Park Arch] It was first built around 1830, on a spot nearby, then moved in 1882 to accommodate traffic flow.

The idea of two monuments to commemorate victory in the Napoleonic Wars had been conceived by George IV [the other being the Marble Arch] But Burton’s design exceeded the budget, so initially the arch was just that – with nothing on top of it. Then the nation decided that something should be done to acknowledge the part played by Wellington in the whole Napoleonic affair.


In 1846 – whilst the Duke was still very much alive, a bronze statue of him astride his horse Copenhagen was placed on the top [the arch being especially strengthened to bear the 40 ton weight] But C. had died, so couldn’t be a model – and people objected that the horse was all wrong! Also the statue was out of proportion to the arch beneath.

Petitions were written and sent to the Queen and to the government. Decimus Burton hated it. The Iron Duke himself had to see it out of his window every day – but Queen Victoria insisted it stay, and so it did [for W’s lifetime] but then when the arch was repositioned [30 years after his death] the equestrian statue did not go back on top. The Prince of Wales wanted to have a Quadriga  - a four wheeled winged chariot there. This had been on Burton’s original design. Finally, in 1912, once the Prince had become King Edward VII, the dream was realised. [The horse statue was given to the Army, and is now outside the Garrison Church in Aldershot.]

quadriga - front

Here is the winged Goddess of Victory [aka NIke] the model for the quadriga driver was the young son of Herbert Stern, the businessman who gave the King the money for the statue. 

In 2000, the Quadriga was in serious need of restoration - the bronze casting was supported by its original, complex steel and iron armature, which had corroded badly. Some parts of the structure were being distorted and weakened by rust. A London Conservation Company carried out extensive cleaning and repair work.

nike sloganBut now English Heritage have decided Nike needs a clean up again. Such projects don’t come cheap! So they have sought sponsorship. Now you’d have thought this lot would help – but no!

cifcreamThe cleaning is being underwritten by Cif – who were formerly called Jif, back in the day. In fact, they are planning to work with English Heritage to clean and restore many of our national monuments. For each bottle of Cif purchased in Tesco this month, 25p will go towards the clean-up. I don’t think Cif are actually using their products on the bronze!

cif shine

“Cif is committed to restoring the beauty of our surroundings, so we’re always looking for people and organisations that share our values to help us do it. Like Cif, English Heritage is dedicated to conserving and restoring our environment for the benefit of this, and future, generations.”

Cleaning will start in January 2016. I shall have a look when I am driving round the roundabout! I think ‘Quadriga’ would make a good name for a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Friday 28 August 2015

Do You Obey Rule 163?

Click HERE to watch this video. Please drive carefully!
Until we get the sort of separate cycle lanes provided in the Netherlands, we all need to be more careful of how we drive our cars past the people of bicycles. And please don't tell me "but Motorists pay Road Tax, cyclists don't" That is INCORRECT. In fact, all taxpayers finance the roads, what motorists pay is Vehicle Excise Duty. And anyway, that response does not excuse dangerous and bad driving!

Thursday 27 August 2015

They’ve Seen The Signs In Leicestershire…


The council put up helpful signs to point people in the right direction!

error in coalville 08 15

This sign in Coalville is the latest county council gaffe. Oh, no, sorry, that should read CoalVILE. Get it right, County Hall!!

coalvile 08 15


The Old Soldiers of the RADA are all lining up to appear in the new Dad's Army film - due for release in February 2016. Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson, Michael Gambon as Private Godfrey, Tom Courtenay as Lance Corporal Jack “Don’t Panic” Jones some younger talent - The Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison as Private Pike, and Catherine Zeta-Jones providing the glamorous female interest [mind you, she is approaching 50 now, and has been on stage for almost 35 years] 
I have very mixed feelings about the film. I grew up watching the original programmes with my family, and I love watching repeats on TV, and listening to the excellent radio broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Furthermore, I am a little miffed with the town of Bridlington where the film was made, who are planning to 'twin' with Warmington-on-Sea, because Thetford in Norfolk has been the true home of Dad's Army since 1968, as any fule kno. But there we are, times have changed...As long as the script is of the calibre of the original Perry/Croft ones, with such a stellar cast***, they certainly ought to be able to produce a fine film.
*** For what it's worth, I am not that keen on Bill Nighy [although I did get to teach his great-niece for a whole term once] but I will happily watch anything with Tom Courtenay in it.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

The Measure Of The Man

We try to limit our spending on anniversary gifts – but also to find something which the other will enjoy. When I found this little item in a CS recently, I knew it was just the sort of quirky gizmo which Bob would have fun with. It came in a neat wooden presentation case. I was intrigued, and after much discussion with James [the helpful assistant in the Trussell Trust Shop] and the pair of us squinting through the sights and wiggling the little lever, I handed over my dosh, and then came home to research it further.



It is a circumferentor, or surveyor's compass – that is, an instrument used in surveying to measure horizontal angles. Although it was superseded by the theodolite in the early 19th century, ‘Stanley’ of London continued to make them. 


According to the instructions, “Practice with this compass will help a person develop the ability to visualize lines and planes in three-dimensional space. On the cover of this compass there is a Natural Sine Scale for calculations of different readings during a survey.

Under the cover is a mirror used for taking reflecting readings from the dial. The compass is composed of a magnetic needle that is balanced on a pin so that the needle can rotate easily and becomes aligned with the magnetic field lines at the location of measurement.”


“The ability to visualize lines and planes in three-dimensional space” does remind me rather of the phrase Time And Relative Dimension In Space. Well, WHO would have thought it? [next anniversary, should I get Bob a sonic screwdriver and knit him a long scarf?]

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Thirty Six Fantastic Years!

A man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honour her husband.  [Ephesians 5]

Summer 1979

wedding 1979

Summer 2015

4 of us at wedding

Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today

Happy Anniversary, Bob – so grateful for all that we have shared together in the years past, looking forward to all that lies ahead…

Monday 24 August 2015

Throw In The Towel

As Douglas Adams said, in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy…

“A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have…You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

There have been times when I have needed a towel and been unprepared – like the summer of 2011, when 4 of us stripped to our underwear and had an impromptu swim at a Norfolk beach. We ended up having to share just one towel – Marion’s dog-drying-towel!ang liz swimjon mark swim

I have decided that as we are near the sea so much more these days, it would make sense for us to keep a towel in each of our cars. So I took one of my kitchen roller towels apart [I don’t have a roller here] and rehemmed the two sections. Then I made neat little bags from a remnant of curtain material. And here they are – ready to go.


If you want to make a similar bag, first fold and roll up your towel tightly and measure the length and circumference. Add 2” to each measurement.  Mine was 10”x10”, I cut a square of fabric 12”x 12”.

Fold in half, right sides together and sew the long side seam. Flatten, so the seam runs up the centre, and sew across the bottom. If you want a square base, then sew across each corner. Hem the top edge. Turn inside out and attach hanging loop. Roll up your towel, push it in – and head for the beach!

Sunday 23 August 2015


annunciation martini&memmi

I love the story of the Annunciation – the angel coming to tell Mary she would be the mother of God’s son. When Steph and I visited Florence, in 2002, we saw many great paintings interpreting this theme [top to bottom 1333 - Martini & Menni; 1430 - Fra Angelico  1489- Botticelli; 1470 – Leonardo da Vinci]

annunciation fra angelico2

Timothy Dudley Smith rewrote Mary’s Song – the Magnificat – and produced a hymn which has become very popular in many churches. It was one of my choices for the service I am taking tonight in Boscombe [theme ; Psalm 96] I’ve been humming it all week.

annunciation botticelli2

  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy Name--the Lord, the Mighty One.
  Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
  Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children's children and for evermore!

annunciation Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Annunciazione_-_Google_Art_Project

Saturday 22 August 2015

Currant Affairs

The Manse garden here at Ferndown continues to surprise and to delight me. Perhaps it is true that when you get older you start to appreciate the garden more. Anyway, down the narrow side passage I have found some unexpected treasures! This section previously this was blocked off by a previous incumbent, to prevent his dog hiding down there – but Bob removed the fence panel back in July, and lo and behold, there were some currant bushes. I suspect that neglect and lack of pruning have not helped their growth – but I did pick a cup full of fruit, which have ripened whilst we’ve been away,


Not a huge amount, but enough to embellish a batch of home made yogurt.

I wasn’t expecting to return from holiday and find there were still salad leaves to pick. I found a few more broad beans yesterday too. I tweaked Delia’s recipe from Frugal Food

delia frugal

She combines broad beans with a cooked rasher of bacon, spring onions and some salad greens, and herbs then tosses them in a simple dressing. This cookbook has no pictures of finished recipes. I used mixed leaves, bacon, and beans. Hadn’t got spring onions, but I did have a few of my friend’s home grown toms, and also some basil in a pot on the windowsill.


Then I got carried away and threw in some crumbled walnuts and a few scoops of quark [it is one of the few cheeses I can eat, and I had picked up a reduced tub in the supermarket this week]

Now that’s what I call a healthy looking lunch!

I think the last time I picked blackcurrants was in the late 1960’s – we used to bicycle out to Gorgate Hall [near Swanton Morley] to pick them for the farmer there. He sent them off to the Ribena factory- and we cycled home having earned some holiday spending money. I think all the fruit picking there is mechanised nowadays.

Friday 21 August 2015

A Nurse Who Tried To Do Her Duty


I bought this book when we were in Norwich a few weeks ago. It has been a truly fascinating story, and I have found it well worth reading, although at times it was incredibly sad.

I knew many of the basic facts of Edith’s life, but Souhami’s book gave much more detail and set things in context.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth – and centenary of the death – of Edith Cavell. As a small child, I learned the story of this brave woman, and my father took me to see the huge statue at the corner of Trafalgar Square [see picture at bottom of post]

When we moved to Norfolk, I visited her grave in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, and saw the memorial close by  [then, the memorial was outside in the area called ‘Tombland’ – but in 1993 was moved to the Cathedral gateway.


Edith grew up in Norfolk, where her father was a clergyman. From childhood she had a strong faith, and a strong sense of duty. Like many women of her class at the end of the 19th C, she trained as a governess.

At the age of 25, she went to Belgium, to be the governess for a family friend. She became fluent in French and then, five years later, as the youngest child of the family left for boarding school, and Rev Cavell became ill, Edith returned to Norfolk. Her time as a governess was over- and there was no sign of a husband – so she decided, as her two sisters had done, to become a trained nurse.

To cut a long story short – after training in London, and a spell in Maidstone in 1897. nursing during the awful typhoid epidemic there [for which the grateful townspeople presented her with a medal ‘with gratitude for loving services’] she was invited to set up a Nurses Training School in Brussels in 1907. This she did, and became the much loved Matron.

She was incredibly hard-working, self disciplined, and possessed of a strong Christian conscience. As a nurse, her duty to her patients came first. After a day training on the wards, her students were expected to sit in the evenings and listen to Edith instructing them on the duty and fortitude which she expected them to display also. The new Belgian School of Nursing has been an entire success, declared Dr Antoine Depage at the International Nurses Congress in Cologne in 1912.

edith-cavells-quotes-6Edith came home to visit her mother in the summer of 1914 – but was was declared, and she swiftly returned to Belgium. She told her [rather scared] nurses that any inured soldier must be treated, friend or foe – every one was a father, husband, or son.

As nurses they took no part in the quarrel, their work was for humanity, and the profession of nursing knew no frontiers. Many wounded British soldiers, fleeing the Hun, ended up at her hospital. She became part of the resistance movement organising their escape back to England. Putting herself at incredible risk [but ensuring minimal danger to her nursing staff] she nursed the men, found false papers, and fresh clothes, and necessary travel funds, and then guided them to the people who would see them over the frontier into Holland.

In the end, she was betrayed, and the Germans arrested her and imprisoned her in August 1915. After a hastily convened trial, with her statements ‘translated’ from French into German [often very inaccurately, and deliberately falsified] she was sentenced to death, for treason. She was kept in prison, waiting – while various people endeavoured to secure her release. But at 4pm on the afternoon of October 11th, 1915, her execution date was set – for a mere 15 hours later.  Rev Stirling Gahan, an Irish Pastor living in Brussels, was allowed to take Holy Communion, and pray with her in her cell. She asked him to pass on farewell messages to those she loved  “We shall remember you as a heroine and a martyr” he told her “No – think of me as a nurse who tried to do her duty”

She was shot at dawn the following morning. After the execution, her body was buried, in the unmarked grave beside where she was shot. Hearing of her death, the Belgians, and the British people were stunned, there was a great feeling of disbelief and horror.

ec posterThe propaganda machine went into overdrive - A woman, a nurse, a poor, defenceless English girl – murdered by the evil Boche. Her death doubled army recruitment overnight – for eight consecutive weeks, numbers went up from 5K to 10k – an extra 40K men enlisted to fight. I am not sure Edith herself would have been happy about that. She hated war, in all its forms.

The family were asked about a memorial – there had been great public demand for something. They suggested no statue- but rather that a home should be set up for retired nurses[which Edith herself had intended to do, one day] Five such homes were set up – but ironically, more commemorative monuments have been set up to Edith than to any other woman of WW1.


The great London Monument bears at the top, the statue of a mother protecting her child, below that the words FOR KING AND COUNTRY – and on the four sides, the words Humanity, Devotion, Fortitude and Sacrifice. At the back is a [British!] lion, crushing the serpent of treachery and the words ‘Faithful unto death’ In the front at the base of the plinth is a 10foot high image of Edith , and below that, the words


Her final words to the priest, who brought her Communion in her cell, the night before her death had been these -“I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone” – but the government would not allow these words to be engraved [after all, such sentiments questioned the integrity of hegemony and war] In 1923, they had to capitulate, following strong representation from the National Council of Women of Great Britain and Ireland, and the words were belatedly added.

In 1919, after the was ended, her body was exhumed- her features bore a perfectly calm expression, and had not suffered decomposition [for some this implied saintliness] Her hair comb, collar stud and hat pin were returned to the family. Edith’s body was brought back through crowd-lined streets of Brussels, on to Ostend, and eventually to a huge funeral in Westminster Abbey and then burial in “Life’s Green” outside Norwich Cathedral. This is the centenary year – many events are planned

  • tomorrow a group of people will begin climbing Mount Cavell in Canada [yes, it was named after Edith] to raise money for the Cavell Nurses Trust
  • there are events all year throughout Norfolk
  • on October 12th, there will be a special wreath laying at her statue in Trafalgar Square
  • The Edith Cavell Rose, first bred in Holland in 1917, then ‘lost’ but rediscovered in a garden in Norfolk 1985, is on sale this year to benefit the EC Nurses Trust

cavell rosecavell quote

I thought Diana Souhami’s book was meticulously researched, and beautifully written, without becoming a hagiography – and that it definitely merits *****.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red [Again]

poppies oct 2014
In October Liz and I were among those who queued to see the amazing display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. It was very moving – but when I went into the shop to buy one, they said that the last one had been pre-ordered sometime before. I was really thrilled therefore to receive a housewarming present from Adrian and Marion in February – one of the poppies.
in box
It came, dismantled, carefully packed in bubble wrap with a booklet explaining the story of the installation and a certificate of authenticity, plus instructions on how to assemble the ceramic flower onto the metal stem [and a note explaining that the rust on the stem was all part of the artwork!]
But how to display it? I didn’t want to ‘plant’ it in a garden [Dorset or Norfolk] and I was anxious that in a vase it may get knocked over and smashed. Stainless steel stands, and display tubes were for sale on the internet, and some people have mounted theirs into a base. But anything used would have to be sturdy and support the weight of the heavy ceramic head. The poppy has remained safely in its box for six months whilst we pondered on the best thing to do.
Ian, our next door neighbour here has a huge stack of stones in his garden, which came from a stonemason’s yard. Bob explained what we needed, and he kindly said we could take any piece that we wanted.
Bob chose a block of granite. He measured the diameter of the stem, and drilled a 5mm hole part way through the block. Using epoxy resin, he stuck the stem into the block, and then assembled the flower. It now has pride of place beside our fireplace.
Thanks to Bob for the DIY, Ian for the stone, and Adrian and Marion for the poppy itself. I wonder what has happened to the other 888,245 poppies? We shall certainly treasure ours.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Yet Another BBQ On The Beach

After ending our holiday with a family BBQ in Norfolk, we enjoyed another BBQ in Bournemouth on Monday evening. Carole and Steve  have a beach hut on the seafront, and invited Bob and me to join them, along with some of the young people from church, for fun and food. Kerry and John, two of the other youth leaders were there [that’s Steve standing in the top right picture, with John next to him, in charge of cooking!]

young people august 2015

fat me at beach hut-001We paddled, played games, and generally enjoyed ourselves. As the evening wore on, it got a little chilly. Zipping up my cardi over my top and leggings was not a good idea – this is definitely an unflattering photo. I am going to have to try harder to eat less and move more over the next few months I think! But I did enjoy my evening watching the tide come in, laughing and chatting [and eating sausages with John’s amazing curried onions]

The day before, some of these teenagers had been providing music for worship. Here they are, still playing enthusiastically after the service ended. It was wonderful! I feel so blessed to be here.