Thursday 30 June 2016

Weeding Between The Lines

It has been a strange week hasn't it? Last Thursday we went out early and voted, and came back to a very European breakfast table - Italian tablecloth, French Crockery, German Cutlery, British Milk and Butter, Spanish oranges in the Marmalade, Irish linen napkins [Dutch Tulips and half-Belgian husband out of shot!]
And then a day later, I didn't feel like breakfast at all. I could not believe the result.
But we must all move on, and pick up the pieces, and build bridges etc etc.
All the more reason to do my abseil and support needy families. [I am getting more terrified as the date approaches]
We have had some very busy days since then, and decided out Day Off would be a Day In The Home And Garden.
Bob had been ordering bits and pieces and there were four deliveries due. 
We sat in bed drinking tea and reading.
8.10am the doorbell went 'My first delivery' he announced, and ran downstairs [still in pjs] It was the two children from next door with a bottle of wine. We'd been unable to support a fundraiser they had done, so I'd given them some money to spend. One of their tickets had won a prize- the wine - so they decided to give it to us! How thoughtful! That sdelivery was certainly unexpected, but very welcome.
We got up and began gardening. Serious Weeding

There were some good things - a glut of lettuces, and the sweet peas and hanging baskets are blooming nicely.
But the two lots of runner beans have been eaten, as have 6 out of the 7 strawberries we discovered on a plant hidden behind the shrubbery. 
Things are looking a lot tidier, and Bob even went up the ladder and cleaned the blocked gutter, and he hates heights even more than I do.
I went inside to wash my hands and get lunch. But I knocked the hand cream flying - moving swiftly to catch it, I caught my head on the corner of the first aid cabinet. it really hurt, so I yelled, then stood, eyes shut, trying to steady myself. Bob came in, to see if I was OK, and said it resembled a scene from CSI. Head wounds do bleed so profusely! There was blood on the floor, the sink, my glasses...and yet it was the tiniest of cuts on the top of my head. Bob cleaned me up, cleaned the cloakroom up, and suggested I sat and rested for an hour or so. I did not argue. [new title for this post -Bleeding between the lines?]
I looked at all the cards on the mantelpiece which have arrived in the post over the past few days.

In a week when much of the media has portrayed people as selfish and ungrateful [especially the older generation] it is lovely to read these greeting from friends - many of whom are quite a bit older than I am. I have also received a couple of beautiful gifts recently from readers of my blog. Neither of these ladies had my address- so tracked down the church website, and sent their gifts to me there. How thoughtful was that? I am truly thankful for all these kind gestures.

Things are going to feel unsettled for a while yet, I think. The two main political parties seem to be in meltdown, and many families seem divided because of the way people voted. But I will focus on positive experiences, and count my blessings - and do all I can to bless others. 

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Who IS My Neighbour?

...said the young man to Jesus in Luke chapter 10. 
 Liz directed me to this helpful poster from the Migrant Rights Centre in Ireland

There have been a number of pieces in the press about opposing racism. Allison, an American woman living in London is starting a campaign suggesting people wear a safety pin on their clothing to show solidarity with immigrants.
I confess I am not so sure about this one - safety pins on clothing have been around for a long time e.g. the Dutch wore them in WW2 as a symbol of resistance to the Nazis. Punks wore/wear them as a symbol of anarchy. In many African cultures, a pregnant woman wears a pin as a 'protection' for her unborn child. 
For the brave folk of the Netherlands then,the pin meant 'let's keep things together, and keep our mouths closed' - but surely we now need to be open and speak out about evil?
And I am not sure who is supposed to wear the pins - Allison herself is, after all, a foreigner living in the UK. But I admire her for wanting to do something. Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Jesus answered the young man's question with the story of the good Samaritan who was neighbour to the man who had been robbed - and told him to "go and do the same"

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Today We Are Looking Through the Round Window

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the recipe for Rhubarb Windows, and had a number of comments. Pam said she had made it with rhubarb - and then using plum halves [cut side down] I had opened a tin of apricot halves, and had some left in a box in the fridge, so I thought I would try them. I counted them out [15] and decided to do 5 rows of 3 [you can tell I am a mathematician] I placed them very carefully in the cake batter. But I don't know if I knocked the baking tray as it went in the oven, or what, but they shifted out of position rather. The pud was still good though.
Here's a young, slim Brian Cant, Christmas Eve 1970, in front of the three Playschool Windows - for those of you old enough to remember when Children's TV was much simpler!

Monday 27 June 2016

Working On My PhD

No, I am not that clever - PhD in this context means Projects Half Done. I have been trying to post at the end of each month about the crafty and creative activities I have achieved. Currently I have three different things on the go - but not one of them is anywhere near completion, and I don't want to speak about them til I have something positive to show you. But here is a teaser collage of some of the materials involved.
I have been using sewing machines, my die-cut machine, and knitting needles.
And my vaccuum cleaner- they are all generating a fair amount of little bits of stuff and fluff and trimmings on the carpet.
None of these projects is for baby Rosie, but all three are destined for other people to enjoy.
Watch this space!

Sunday 26 June 2016

Stones Of Hope

Carol asked about the Hope Stones [thanks for the enquiry!]. This was an idea from Chris Duffett, the Baptist Evangelist, who does lots of 'Saints on the Street' work in the community, sharing the good news of God's love.
These are just ordinary cobbles bought from the Garden Centre. On the underside of each is I have written a word or phrase using an indelible Sharpie Marker pen] Below is part of a post I wrote three years ago after our Kirby Muxloe Village Fun Day. It was the first time I had used the stones, and was blown away by people's reactions...

I cannot begin to tell you what amazing responses we had to our ‘stones’ table. So many people saying ‘this is just the right message for me’ – people taking a stone and then coming back later bring a friend or partner ‘Go on, you take one too’
  • The lady who looked up with tears in her eyes and said “You’ve no idea how much I needed to read this today [You are special]
  • Two people who are facing cancer in their families, one read Hope, the other One day at a Time
  • The teacher who said her new term had thrown up all sorts of challenges Wait and See
  • The student who was anxious about his forthcoming exams read Do Not Be Afraid – and said ‘That’s exactly right!’
  • ‘This is the message for me’ said one person reading ‘Have faith’ and explained they were going through a difficult divorce.

In fact almost everyone who took a stone remarked on how appropriate it was. It was incredibly moving, and humbling, as they shared their circumstances with us – and we were able to offer encouragement, comfort and prayer.

May the stones they took away continue to give comfort and strength. Perhaps in view of the events this week, and the anxious people around me, I should set up another table somewhere soon...

A Recommitment to the Common Good

After the EU Referendum: a prayer from the Joint Public Issues Team

God of every nation and people,
At this historic moment we pray for all who are affected by the decision that we have made.

Whatever differences this has revealed within our own society,
    may they not eclipse what we have in common.

Where the narratives of political debate have caused harm and division
    help us to reclaim the true values of our shared humanity.

Where exaggeration and distortion have generated suspicion and fear
    may truth and honesty restore hope and goodness.

We pray for all the nations of Europe
    that you will help us to find ways of living and working together
    to pursue the mercy and justice that you require.

We recommit ourselves – together – to the values of your eternal Kingdom
    and pray that along with all people
    we might help your world become more as you intended.


Saturday 25 June 2016

We Had A Field Day!

We certainly had fun last Saturday - the weather was good - a bit breezy and overcast at times - but the crowds turned out to enjoy the fun.
We got there early and put up the Church tents. Those multisection gazebos can be a challenge to erect - you need to lay out the poles very carefully, and then wait whilst your Anglican Brethren do a special Dorset Pole Dance round them!
In our tents we had a prayer area, Hope-stones, children's activities [colouring, cake decorating, hair-braiding] refreshments- and next door, my little story tent. That was really rewarding - best bits for me were...
  • a Mum asking 'where in the bible can we find that story when we get home
  • a group of a dozen children who left after their story- then all turned and rushed straight back in, asking if they could have another one immediately, please?
  • one of my little friends from church, who came to me on Sunday before the service and asked for the end of the story, as she'd had to leave halfway through as she was in a display

I loved this Organ - with the perforated cardboard sheets that played the various tunes stored at the back 

There were many fun characters present - Stormtrooper, Town Crier, Dalek, etc

For High Flyers- details of the abseil [please sponsor me - click link on the sidebar!] and a raptor display - and for Big Eaters, lots of food outlets - many in cool vehicles

It was a very different feel to our Village Fun Day back in Kirby Muxloe. Some good ideas to learn from this new setting though. [but Ferndown definitely needs a better Sound System, it was inaudible even when you were within sight of the sound tent]
Thank you to all friends from both churches who turned out to staff the Churches Area. 

This Saturday - a Connexion lunchtime BBQ, then a Church Carwash and Cream Tea to raise funds for the work of Hope Now in Ukraine. As you can see from the picture above, all this fabulous Ferndown food is playing havoc with my waistline!

Friday 24 June 2016

Fifty Shades of Grey Again

Last year I mentioned using a Dr Beckmann whitener to improve the appearance of my white bath towels which were a dismal fifty shades of grey.
I'd had a voucher for a Dr B products and bought three items from the company.
Only in the past week have I got round to using the other two.
But I am so pleased with the results I decided it was worth blogging about them.
I haven't been paid for this [I don't do that sort of thing] but having found something good, I like to pass the tip on.
The second item I used was the box of Dry Cleaning Sheets.
These are sheets you put in the tumble dryer with items you would normally take to be dry cleaned. You open the sachet and use the damp cloth to rub any particularly stained parts. Then you put the garment [inside out] into the tumble dryer ON LOW SETTING for 20 minutes. Then take it out and hang it up.
Bob's green jacket had a particularly dirty patch along the inside of the neck at the back and also the cuff areas. So I rubbed these parts with the cloth then tumbled the jacket. Then I used a second sheet to do my grubby raincoat and my smart MoB dress.
They all came out much fresher looking [and smelling good too] The manufacturers claim each sheet will do up to 4 garments so that is much cheaper than a trip to the cleaners.

My final Dr B item was the Stain Devils Survival Kit. This is a pack of three stain removers- designed for various stains - ink, blood, grass, coffee,wine, curry, oil, suncream... Bob was changing the cartridge on his computer printer and something went wrong and he got red ink all over his light coloured trousers.

He promptly whipped them off and put them in the basin in the bathroom [he is well trained!] and I fetched the pack from the kitchen. I applied the correct liquid, left it for a few minutes and rinsed it off. Then did it again [it was a horrendous stain] and finally put the trousers in the washing machine.  I wish I had taken some 'before' pictures. The red marks on his leg looked like he had been in a sword fight. But afterwards ...we were both amazed to see the stain had completely gone. Bob said he was fully expecting me to say the trousers were beyond recovery. 
These products are not especially cheap - but if you shop around you can often find them on offer somewhere - or promo codes on the net. And to have white towels, fresh and clean clothes and stains removed efficiently and easily, these are all well worth the money imho.
Now if only Dr B would make a sachet that could ensure items come out of the washing machine totally creasefree and5 without needing to be ironed...
Update-just cycled  into town and found all Dr B stuff on offer  in Wilkinson, much half price. That's good news on a grey day! 

Thursday 23 June 2016

A Prayer For Our Nation*

Dear God,
Thank you, Lord, for your goodness to our nation. 
We are comforted by the knowledge that You alone are our Saviour and Lord, and the ultimate Master of life. 
As we face these uncertain times in our nation, we ask you, Lord, to dwell among us. 
Send Your spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. 
Give them, and us, the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. 
We trust our nation to Your loving care, Lord. 
Give us your light and your truth to guide us in our ways so that we may seek Your will in our lives and impact the world around us for Your Kingdom. 

In Jesus' Name we pray - Amen

*with thanks to the Dayspring website

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Looking Through Rose Coloured Spectacles

On Tuesday we went to Christchurch to sort out our new glasses - I have been slightly more daring in my choice of frames this time. Looking at the map as we were about to come home, I suddenly said "Can we drive back via Southbourne?" I explained to Bob that about 55 years ago, before my brother was born, we had a couple of holidays there. We stayed in a Guest House run by two very sweet ladies, near the sea front and the Cliff Lift. "And we would go to Fisherman's Walk, which was lovely."
Poor Bob had to listen to my reminiscences [punctuated by 'no, turn left here, now!'] about the man from the bank, who came at lunchtime in his suit and bowler hat, carrying brolly and briefcase. He would sit on a seat and get out his sandwiches, and the squirrels [red ones] would gather round and run up and down the handle of the umbrella, placed against the bench, and nibble at bits of sandwich. I used to love sirtting on the bench and watching their antucs.
Bob found a parking place and we got out and walked through Fisherman's Walk - which is still there. About 1000 years ago, men from Holdenhurst, a few miles inland, would walk this path down to the sea, to go out fishing - and smuggling. This continued for centuries- but 100 years ago, the final part of the route became this little park. Ten years ago, a group "Friends Of Fisherman's Walk" got together to ensure this lovely area full of wildlife and trees, would be preserved for future generations.
As you enter, there are informative signs, and birds [cormorants?] atop the pillars
There are lovely wooden sculptures, with the native plants and creatures carved on them.
No squirrels and bankers to entertain us this year - but just a couple of guys who had slung a tightrope between two trees. They were very good.
And we saw a three year old with a very fancy remote controlled child-sized model BMW car.
The family were enjoying steering it along the paths - but he was refusing point blank to climb into the vehicle!
There was a pond, with a fountain and water lilies - and then you crossed the road to the cliff top.  
We looked down at the blue waters and golden sands [somewhere in 1961, I lost my favourite bucket whilst playing on the beach!] We decided not to go down in the Cliff Lift.
Bob took my photograph as I peered through the fat-lady-in-a-bikini cutout. That wasn't there in my childhood - and even if it had been, my Mum would never have countenanced such vulgarity!!
We did used to play crazy golf [that's still there] but I couldn't see The Shell House. When I got home, I researched it, and found that sadly it was demolished 15 years ago due to excessive vandalism.
As Bob pointed out, it is possibly a little unreasonable of me to expect things to remain unchanged over the course of half a century! I must stop looking through rose coloured spectacles

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Happy Birthday, Biff And Chips

It is 30 years this week since Roderick Hunt first produced his Oxford Reading Tree Series, to help children learn to read! Liz was already reading by then, and I don't think Steph's school had them in her early years there. But I encountered the Robinson Family often in the various schools where i worked on supply. 
The two main characters were Biff and Chips - the nicknames of the Robinson twins, aka Barbara and David. I am not sure why Hunt chose Barbara - it was hardly a popular name even in the 1980s - less than 1 in 2000 girls. No wonder she opted for a nickname.
 The family also included Mum and Dad, Floppy the dog, and younger brother Kipper [who couldn't pronounce Christopher]
They were a very 1980's Middle Class family! Personally I never really took to them - I am not sure any of the women ever wore skirts. Later on the family included Gran, who was eccentric but good fun, friends Wilf and Wilma, and then Anneena and Sadim. 
But it is a reasonably good reading scheme, and many children like the adventures, so want to read the books. 
There is a plethora of supportive materials to go with the basic story books, and I know many schools are still using this stuff 30 years on.
There is a little confusion though, because many schools used the acronymns WALT, WILF and WILMA as their learning targets [We Are Learning To..., What I'm Looking For..., and What I'm Learning More About...] You can find out about them here
It is interesting to see that in the past 30 years B&C have not really changed that much. Contrast them with the Ladybird "Janet and John" reading scheme. which ran from the 50s to the 70s and desperately tried to modernise itself [and failed!]

And does anyone remember the Billy Blue Hat Series? [I really didn't get on with them!]
Whatever scheme you choose, I am still convinced that the most important thing is regular access to books, with adults and older children reading to the younger ones and helping them until they can read for themselves. 

My experience on Saturday at the Fete On The Field was that most children love storytelling - and enjoy trying out new words. Kindles and Tablets and Laptops and DVDs are useful - but to hold a book and turn the pages and enjoy the words and pictures is a great experience for boys and girls. 
So I am very grateful to Roderick Hunt, and Roger Hargreaves [Mr Men] and Mick Inkpen [Kipper- the dog] Nick Butterworth [Percy Park-keeper] Julia Donaldson [Gruffalo] etc etc etc who have done so much to help really young children love books and reading. 

Do you [or your children or grandchildren] have a favourite Early Years author, or book series?

Monday 20 June 2016

Merci Mille Fois!

Isn't it lovely when people remember something you mentioned months ago and then act on it? It was super to receive a copy of Marie Claire Idées yesterday, from someone who'd been in France and knew that I get so much enjoyment from this craft magazine.

I decided a proper thank-you was in order, so spent the afternoon making chocolates, and a box to present them in. I didn't particularly want to watch the Grand Prix, so it kept me busy.

I think that now I have got the hang of these silicone moulds I ought to think about another set. Not everybody likes little Lego Men after all!

Sunday 19 June 2016

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly

I am still feeling sad for the death of Jo Cox - someone who spent her life working to make the world a better place. I respect and honour her memory. Whether or not we agreed with her point of view, it is important that she made it - clearly and graciously.

This is the week we vote in the EU referendum. [I'm old enough to remember the vote when we joined, back in the 70s] I know how I shall vote, and I will not presume to tell you what to do. 
Last Sunday we sung this old Graham Kendrick song in Church, I found the words both moving, and challenging. 
Who can sound the depths of sorrow 
In the Father heart of God 
For the children we've rejected 
For the lives so deeply scarred? 
And each light that we've extinguished 
Has brought darkness to our land 
Upon our nation, upon our nation 
Have mercy, Lord
We have scorned the truth you gave us 
We have bowed to other lords 
We have sacrificed the children 
On the altars of our gods 
O let truth again shine on us 
Let your holy fear descend 
Upon our nation, upon our nation 
Have mercy, Lord
Who can stand before your anger? 
Who can face your piercing eyes? 
For you love the weak and helpless 
And you hear the victims' cries 
Yes, you are a God of justice 
And your judgement surely comes 
Upon our nation, upon our nation 
Have mercy, Lord
Who will stand against the violence? 
Who will comfort those who mourn? 
In an age of cruel rejection 
Who will build for love a home? 
Come and shake us into action 
Come and melt our hearts of stone 
Upon your people, upon your people 
Have mercy, Lord 
Who can sound the depths of mercy 
In the Father heart of God? 
For there is a Man of sorrows 
Who for sinners shed his blood 
He can heal the wounds of nations 
He can wash the guilty clean 
Because of Jesus, because of Jesus 

Have mercy, Lord
 this week I just pray 
  • that the Lord will have mercy on our nation, and turn hearts back to Him 
  • that men and women will vote for justice, and truth, and righteousness
  • that we will consider the impact of our choice on the weak, the helpless, the rejected, and the victims in our world 
  • that we will not just decide because of how it will affect us personally, but think of others around us, and think of future generations too

Saturday 18 June 2016

What Fete Awaits Us?

It's going to be a very busy day...

Update - the weather was fine all day [a little breezy and a bit overcast occasionally - but no rain] The church tent was very busy 
I had fun telling stories to the children. We came home via the Chinese Takeaway...and now I am going to slump in front of the TV. Pictures to follow later. Thanks for the good wishes!

Friday 17 June 2016

Things I Have Realised This Week...

That when your sick daughter says 'Could I just have a small bowl of cereal, please, Mum?' the only reliable way to determine whether that large unlabelled plastic box of multicoloured biscuit things in the kitchen contains breakfast cereal or dry cat food is to actually take out a piece and eat it.
That when you are about to go out shopping with your granddaughter, and have to get buggy, bags, and baby down a narrow flight of stairs to the front door, it is a serious exercise in logistics. Like that problem with the farmer, the fox, chicken and grain who had to cross a river. And you think it is all OK, till you realise you are at the bottom of the stairs, everything ready - and then you discover you cannot open the front door if the loaded buggy is in front of it!
That when you plan to eat a yogurt on the train as you travel home to your husband, you should remember to put it in a plastic bag, in case it splits. Otherwise you find yourself emptying contents of overnight bag [diary, phone, hairbrush, pen, can of deodorant...] onto the table between the seats, and wiping everything down with your pyjama top. Many sympathetic smiles from other travellers- and no yogurt left for me to enjoy.
And most of all I have realised that these things are quite trivial and not worth getting stressed about. And my heart aches for the two little children, and the husband who are grieving for Jo Cox right now. God bless and comfort them.

Goodness is stronger than evil
Love is stronger than hate
Light is stronger than darkness
Life is stronger than death

If The Apostle Paul Did It, So Can I!

In Sunday School, they told us how the apostle Paul escaped from Damascus by being let down the wall on a rope [in a basket] I will not have a basket* on July 16th - but I will be going down the side of a Church Tower on a rope. My fundraising page is here. All sponsorship will be gratefully received
*Neither will I follow my daughters' suggestion of doing this feat dressed as Spiderman.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Hello Teddy, Hello Dolly

Rosie already has a basket of books, and gets regular books from the library. Liz was very excited to show me these two which arrived in the post in recent weeks.

These are Rosie's first two books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Yes, you did read that correctly.

DP believes that all children have the right to access to books, whatever their household income or situation. Southwark Council has linked to the Dollywood Foundation, to promote this scheme, for all children born in the Borough between December 2015 and December 2016. So that includes our Rosie!
The first book to arrive was Peter Rabbit, which included a letter from Dolly printed on the flyleaf - and an encouragement to the children to follow their dreams. 
So try to be the first one up the mountainThe highest flying dreamer in the skyAnd try your best to be an inspirationTo others that are still afraid and shyAnd try to make the most of every momentIf you fail, get up and try againTry each day a little harderIf you never try, you never win


I think it is a lovely idea - I know Rosie's parents [and the rest of her family] will encourage her to read - but I am glad that other children will have this opportunity too, whose families may not feel able to include books in their household budgets. Thanks, Dolly!