Friday 30 November 2018

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

For reasons too complicated to explain, Tuesday's "Day Off Together" did not begin till 6pm. But the driving rain had at least stopped, so we went into Bournemouth to look at the Christmas lights. 
We parked near the new Upside Down House. To be honest, we were a little underwhelmed, and didn't feel like paying to go inside. Looking at the billboard outside told you all you needed to know
The most interesting thing for me was the way the letters on the sign UPSIDE DOWN had been reversed and inverted. Sorry the picture is so blurry - but it shows how our eyes/minds can manage to decipher something as perverse as NMOD EDISPU when it is written upside down!
We walked down to the Wonderland Tree Trail
I was disappointed that both the Tree Of Light, and the massive "Wonderland Tree" were both switched off!
But many of the other trees were shining brightly and prettily as we walked through the gardens down towards the Pier and the beach.

It was around 6.45pm, and not that many people out - just a few families, and a handful of people skating on the temporary ice rink.
We were tired and hungry.Plan A had been 'buy a bag of chips and wander along the seafront' - but we opted for Plan B 'Go into Harry Ramsden's and have a decent meal sitting at a table'
This proved a very good choice. The place was lamost deserted, so we were seated and served promptly. And they have an 'Over 60s Club ' [getting older has a few perks!]
A fish&chip meal, followed by ice cream or bread and butter pudding, all accompanied by a huge pot of tea- for just £7.99 a head.
The portions were huge, the food well cooked and tasty and our waitress was extremely friendly and helpful.
I am getting a little better at taking selfies on the new phone, and remembering to hold it up higher. [but I think we both look tired in this shot]
After our meal, we strolled back to the car. I was hurrying Bob along so we'd get there inside the 2 hour limit - only to discover that after 6pm it was free parking anyway!
Home nice and early, to watch "Mrs Wilson" in my pjs, then straight to bed for a good night's sleep!
If you are near Bournemouth, then do pop along to see the lights - it is free and it is fun [I forgot to mention the Alpine Market in the Square - hot chocolate, gluhwein, and gift shops all in little wooden chalets]
What are the Christmas Lights like in your town?
And do any of your neighbours go overboard illuminating their houses?

Thursday 29 November 2018

Who Will Stand Against The Violence?

Sunday, November 25 saw the commencement of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Running from the UN International Day of Elimination of Violence against women to Human Rights Day (December 10), this is the world's longest-running campaign for women's rights. 
In a recent article in Christian Today, Andrew Caplen, [former President of the Law Society, husband of Baptist Minister Lindsay, and all round brilliant guy] wrote this...
Violence against women is a worldwide pandemic. It covers sexual assault, rape in the context of war, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence. The statistics are staggering. For example, in the UK alone it is estimated that one in four women undergo some form of domestic abuse/violence during the course of their lifetime. Further, that nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in the UK each year – government statistics indicate that one in five women aged 16-59 have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
One of the major aims of the 16 days is to raise awareness of the massive, global scale and wide-ranging effects of violence against women. It emphasises that violence against women should never be categorised as being just a 'women's issue' – rather, it is a human rights issue, a justice issue and surely one that should concern us all.

When my girls were teenagers - a couple of decades ago, I had a purple and black pin on my jacket which said "One in Five" - a reminder that 1 in 5 British women suffered domestic abuse/violence. It is really sad to read that the statistic in the UK is now one in four. 
A number of my friends are involved in the Thursdays in Black campaign - which is organised by the World Council of Churches- wear black on Thursday [every Thursday, not just this week] to show solidarity with those who suffer and to raise awareness of the systems which promote such violence. I confess that I myself have problems with this particular WCC campaign. I sometimes wear black clothes on other days of the week, how do I make sure that people know this is a 'special' day for my wardrobe? And many of my friends do not get to choose what they wear to work so they are excluded from taking part.  And black is a go-to colour for many men's work attire 5 days a week. But I understand and agree with the principles behind the campaign, and hope it succeeds in its aims of raising awareness.
I was very pleased to hear about Restored - This is an international Christian based alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.
Andrew Caplen is a co-director of this group. He is eager to point out that this is not just a "women's issue" but one that concerns us all, whatever gender. Restored says...

  •  We campaign to raise awareness amongst Christians of the issue of violence against women and we advocate for change
  • We mobilise and equip churches, Christian organisations and individuals to act against violence against women
  • We develop new initiatives to meet specific needs that are not being met by other organisations

We must not ever assume this sort of thing happens to 'some other people I don't know' - the statistics make it plain that there will be people in your wider circle of friends who are being/have been abused. And they may even be in church with you next Sunday. We must all do what we can to stop this.  My heart aches for those who are suffering. 
And whilst I am having a rant, about violence against women, can I just complain about what happened in Parliament last Friday. Lord Berkeley’s private members’ bill would have seen a one-line amendment to the Children’s Act 1989, which would “considerably extend protection to young girls” at greatest risk of genital mutilation. The Labour peer said his bill had already been through “microscopic examination”. 
And guess what - the MP for my corner of Dorset, the misogynist Christopher Chope, shouted "Object!" and blocked it, saying there had not been proper debate. I am just wondering how we can manage to prevent CC from getting to the House on Friday 25th January, to object at the next reading of this bill. I say again - I did not vote for this odious man!!

And if you reading this, and you are one of those 1-in-4 abused women, please seek help.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Winter Warmth

My teaching post is just halfterm till Christmas- so I am halfway through it. On cold dark days, it is tempting to turn over and stay in bed - but I have a pupil waiting and I must be up and out, bright eyed and bushy tailed. But there are some things for which I am incredibly grateful, which have ameliorated the inevitable stresses involved in early starts, hurried mealtimes and long days when I'm trying to fit too much in.

  1. My reliable little Aygo, which always starts first time. It's efficient heater and built in radio help make the commute better.
  2. My super extra-long ice-scraper from Lidl. My arms just won't reach right across to clear the screen at 7.25am [or any other time of day!]
  3. Hot chocolate. Doesn't need to be fancy, with cream and marshmallows- just a simple mug of this is always a thing of great cheer.
  4. IKEA meatballs. Especially since I realised you could microwave them. Instant comfort food - with pasta or mash or rice. Delicious!
  5. Bedsocks - I cannot get off to sleep with cold feet, and a kind blogfriend sent me these a few years back. They make such a difference.
  6. Gaviscon. Eating at odd hours is not good for my digestion. But this helps.
  7. Bob's wonderful smiling face which greets me each day - his love and encouragement make such a difference when the day has been ...trying.
What are the things that keep you going in this cold weather? 

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Single Use?

This is one of the "Words Of The Year" for 2018. We are all being urged to avoid 'single use' items, and rightly so. It is not good to buy water and throw away the bottle after drinking it. Our whole planet is littered with...litter.
But 'single use' can also apply to the way we use tools, or the purpose to which we put objects. Yes, I still have my treasured mini Swiss Army knife on my keyring [a present from Liz about 16 years ago] which is the archetypal multi-use, multi-purpose tool. But there are other things I use in unexpected ways.
This is the PopPunch which I got over 30 years ago when I first got my knitting machine. It is for making holes in plastic punch cards so you can knit repeating patterns. it is years since I had the KM out, and I am seriously debating whether to get rid of the machine. 

But the punch? definitely not! It makes beautifully neat holes, smaller than the regular hole punch I use for file papers. 

And it is easy to position in exactly the right spot. It really comes into its own when producing gift tags. 
 These are for our 2018 "Angel Blessing" project, and I will be sharing  more on that soon.
The other item which I have found a new use for is a little more unexpected. I was out in the garage and noticed Bob had a large bag of Jointing Biscuits.
No these are not edible. They are what woodworkers often use when joining two pieces of wood [the 'biscuit' is glued into a slot in each side of the joint.
I looked at them and realised that a biscuit in a paper cup cake case would be a great baby Moses in his basket, floating amongst the bulrushes.
So that is what the children produced on Sunday morning, under the careful supervision of my good friends Ali and Pete.

And yes, I have realised we can make Baby Jesus in a manger with these...but that won't be this Christmas though!

Monday 26 November 2018

Straight From the Norse's Mouth!

No, not a misprint - just my fascination with words and their origins. My pupil said something about "going berserk" on Friday and I replied "that's a Viking word! It originally meant 'taking your shirt off'". This led to a great discussion [it's OK Mr Ofsted Man, we are looking at the roots of words in our literacy Lessons, so it was relevant] 
We spent five minutes finding common words which are an ongoing gift from their Norse origins.
Do you realise just how many of our ordinary everyday words date back to that period just before the Norman Conquest when there were Scandinavians all over England? OK, so maybe hygge and lagom are new kids on the block, but just look at these words, which come directly from Old Norse...
gun - from the female name Gunnhildr - gunn & hildr translate to war & battle
ransack - from rannsakka meaning to search a house
slaughter - from slatra , to butcher
husband  - from husbondi - hus [house] &  bondi [occupier and tiller of soil]
steak - [I love this one!] from steik - to fry
bug  - bukr - which is an insect within the tree trunk
muck - myki -  meaning cowdung
[they had lots of words for dirt - including drit]
glove  arrives via lofi-  meaning the middle of the handblunder - blundra-  that is  to shut one's eyes and stumble about blindly
oaf  is from alfr or elf
whisk comes from  viska, to plait or braid
bag from baggin 
window - this is beautiful - vindaugga literally wind-eye
ugly - uggligr meaning  dreadful
kid - kid- young goat   [pretty obvious]
cake is simply kaka
egg is...egg

And with that I wish you good tidings [tidindi = news of events]

Sunday 25 November 2018

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Yesterday was the switch on for the Ferndown Christmas Lights. Bob and I were in the town centre from 10.30 - 6.30. Lots of setting up, and packing away - with good stuff in between. He was in charge of PA for the whole event, I was helping with the joint churches stand - organising "Get in the Picture" again. In Kirby, we took the pictures, and then put them on a website where people could access them- now it is so much easier, people use their own phones [although we offered to take the photo if everyone in the family wants to dress up]
Rain was constant - another November Saturday when I came home cold and wet through. Attendance was significantly down on last year. But it was good to be there and over 60 families came and had pictures taken by the manger. Bob left the sound desk at one point, and Jenny and I persuaded him to be a Star in the Stable*. Here is a Wise Man presenting Mary and the baby with a an empty biscuit tin!
I am not sure why there is a sheep lying in the manger.
Bob took his glasses off because the Magi probably didn't wear spectacles. Jenny and I preferred to keep things in focus.
I had to put the old curtain on the floor - each pitch was marked with spray paint- and we had a large number 13 which we didn't want appearing in the photos.
Don't forget that Advent starts next week.Please comment below if you wish to join in our Advent Pause

Saturday 24 November 2018

Ferndown - An OLD Stamping Ground?

Stamping ground- a favourite place, allegedly from the habit of animals to trample down a particular patch of vegetation to make an area to rest. [See also ''neck of the woods']
I went to buy some stamps for my Christmas cards. I send hardly any by post these days- almost exclusively to older friends who do not use computers much, or to family members I won't see during the festive season. Everybody else gets an E-X-mas-greeting.
This is the 2018 design- "A wintry scene...a gentleman and a young girl are depicted posting their cards and parcels" said the Royal Mail Website.
All well and good but 
[a] here in Dorset we very rarely get snow like that 
[b] that poor old gentleman may have trouble getting his parcel through the narrow hole-in-the-wall slit! - and how did he know what value stamps to put on his parcel?
[c] I like my Christmas stamps to have Christ on them.
The Royal Mail put out a fresh design each year - alternating between secular and religious. But have stocks of the previous year's design available [for people like me]

Here is last year's design. I asked for 2 dozen of these. "I only have four left" said the assistant. She called to her friend, who replied "I've got none left either"
"I'll take just the 4 you have then" I replied.
"We've got loads of the other ones. But the old people have bought up all the ones with Jesus on."
"Maybe it isn't about being old" I replied "Perhaps it's to do with having faith,  and recognising what Christmas is about?"
I have been thinking about this conversation a lot.
I imagine that the majority of people buying postage stamps [for personal, not business use] are likely to be in the older demographic. People under 30 are more likely to communicate in other ways.
The theme of this year's set of stamp designs is "The Pillar Box" and is based on an anonymous rhyme found on a Victorian Christmas Card
"How doth the little Pillar-Box, at every corner stand, 
and gathers letters all the day, from every sort of hand.
You can find out more about these stamps here. We still have a fair number of postboxes locally- but fewer and fewer Post Offices, which is sad. It makes it harder for older folk, who cannot get to the banks [because the small branches have all closed] and who like to buy things with real cash, and send parcels 'properly' not through an online based courier service.
Personally, I intend to remain one of the Old Ferndown Folk, who insists on Baby Jesus on my envelopes [mind you, I wish they would get away from the pale white European Madonna and child images]
Are you sending many cards this year?

Friday 23 November 2018

Tit For Tat [A Hat Tutorial]

Opinion is divided - some say the phrase comes from the Dutch dit voor dat [this for that] bargaining in the market - whilst others say it is old English tip for tap  [hitting back, equivalent retaliation, an eye for an eye etc] Whatever, the phrase has been contracted to titfer as the Cockney rhyming slang for hat. 
The 'chorus' in the play are wearing mob caps [the girls] and capuchon hoods [the boys]
These are so easy to make. Again, you just need a couple of teatrays and a plate!

With a sharp pair of scissors and an overlocker [or a regular zigzag stitch] you can turn out a couple of dozen hats in an afternoon.
The capuchon needs a hood section and a cape section. The hood is basically the same as the hood used for the animal tunics. I drew the half-shape out on a cereal packet, rounding it slightly more, and I could manipulate the pattern pieces to get maximum use of fabric.
The cape is  large 18" circle [teatray] with a 7" circle [that plate again!] cut from the centre.
Sew the back seam of the hood. Then sew the hood into the hole. Zigzag or overlock all raw edges - or trim them with pinking shears if you have dozens to make!
Mobcaps -  18" circle again, this time draw a 12" circle in the middle. Finish the outer raw edge. Machine stitch elastic round that inner circle*. Hold the elastic stretched taut as you stitch. Once you get back to the beginning you will find your mop cap springing to life before you!
* practise this technique on a straight line before attempting curves.  Stitch and backtack for ¼" on unstretched elastic. Once it is firmly attached, then pull the free end taut, and stitch over it.

These two simple items of headgear will turn a mismatched chorus into a group of villagers! Just pop a skirt on the girls and wrap a shawl round their shoulders. My boys wore shepherds tunics and robes from the Nativity costume box.
Here is the Giant and some of the chorus at our local theatre. They were utterly brilliant. If you're making costumes and want to ask specific questions about any of my tutorials, please email me! 

Thursday 22 November 2018

There And Back Again

That phrase is Tolkein's subtitle for The Hobbit. It is also a succinct description of the Travels Of The Supply Teacher. My current job is daily, every morning till Christmas. That is predictable, and manageable. It does mean I work every Tuesday morning [Bob's day off] but we still manage to get part of the day to relax together. I cannot say anything about what I am doing, because I have just one pupil and confidentiality must be maintained. The work is enjoyable, but challenging. We are together from 9-11am.
However, I can tell you about my daily commute. It is horrible!!
I am working in a school about 7.5 miles away in Poole. My Satnav cheerfully predicted a route, and declared it to be 24 minutes. Now I am aware, after almost 4 years here, that to get into Poole or Bournemouth in the morning means negotiating heavy traffic. There is nobody else available to look after my pupil if I am not there on time, and the person who brings the child to school cannot stop. So I need to get there in good time.
Day One - I left at 7.45 - and arrived at 8.35. Almost an hour in heavy traffic, much of it stationary. And an incredibly busy but boring route.
Day Two - 7.30-8.25 - not really much better. Day Three - similar. However, if I take the same route in the reverse direction at 11 am, I am always home before 11.30. 
I checked the SatNav again - it offered a second route. This was further - 9.5 miles, but again allegedly 24 minutes. It was via the dreaded Canford Bottom Roundabout. This traffic fiasco is as grim as it sounds. 
Built for the 2012 Olympics, to enable sportspersons and fans to get from the main stadium in London to the Watersports events in Weymouth, through the bottleneck that is the A31.
It has 14 lanes onto the roundabout, 9 off it, and seventy traffic lights. It was nicknamed The Hamburger because seen from the air it looks like a Big Mac! Many confused drivers panic like scared rabbits  - and there are constant bumps and shunts and generally long queues at every entry point.
Yet again I was spending between 45 and 60 minutes on my journey, but the route was much prettier, past fields covered in morning mists and alongside the woods in Merley and Canford. I could watch the trees changing through their autumnal colours as I bypassed Wimborne.
Then I had a conversation with one of the staff in the school office. She used to live in Ferndown [two streets from me] and she kindly suggested a middle route. This has proved the best of all- - approximately 8.5 miles, passing the beautiful Arrowsmith Coppice.
This route is the best of all. I cannot avoid the initial 2 mile crawl from my house - but after that, the route is steady and traffic is manageable. And the colours are lovely!
My best time thus far has been 28 minutes, and worst 40. At one point, we descend Gravel Hill, and pass the prestigious Poole Grammar School. Here the BMWs, Mercs and Volvos pull into the layby to disgorge the strapping young lads who attend this august academy [as yet I have not seen any boys on bicycles!**] Then on to the edges of Poole, across another couple of roundabouts and I am there at my destination. An ordinary junior school. 
This is the route I am sticking to now. I dare not leave any later in case I do not get to school on time - but as I have to have everything prepared before I set out, there is nothing pupil-related to do on arrival. I cannot waste time just waiting- so I have started a 'two-bag' system. One bag contains all my school stuff, the other has 'odd jobs'. So I have written letters, sewn up knitted angels, prepared labels for play costume coathangers, prepared lists and written draft documents for editing later. 
The motto of PGS is finis opus coronat - "the end crowns the work - the goal gives value to the labour that produced it"
I don't know whether to apply this tag to all the odd jobs which are getting done between 8 and 9am, or to the progress I am making with my pupil between 9 and 11am.
I don't pretend to enjoy getting up so early every morning, but I am beginning to get into a routine. As I drive I listen to Chris Evans on Radio 2. Radio 4 and the interminable Brexit/Trump/politics discussions do not put me in a good frame of mind - and Classic FM is so very soporific, I am afraid I shall doze off.
Do you commute? is it always the same route? Does it take long?
And how do you travel - car, bike, public transport, or walk?
**Jon has suggested if it is only 8 miles, I might consider cycling to school myself. I argued that [a] it would take me 40 minutes pedalling and 20 minutes recovery time and the return trip is mostly uphill [b] some of the roads are not very cyclist friendly [c] I have to transport all my teaching materials each day [d] it is cold and wet and I am a wimp.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Animal Magic [A Costume Tutorial]

Having a number of animal costumes to make, I wanted to find an easy an adaptable method which would look good, be quick to produce, and fits 'the average' Year 4 child [8/9 years] I came up with this system. You need three rectangles - two approx 17" x 26", and one 8½" x 26"- give or take a bit. Using recycled fabrics means sometimes they weren't always precise.
Where possible, I cut a strip 17" x 52" meaning I didn't need to do a shoulder seam.
My other key piece of equipment is this plate which measures 7" across. This is exactly the right size for a "head hole".
Begin by sewing the shoulder seam [or marking the middle of your strip], then place your plate in the middle of that, draw round and cut out a 'head hole'. Mark the centre back of the hole.
Now fold your narrow strip in half to make a hood. Round off the corner, and sew the back seam.
Stitch the hood to the head hole, matching the seam with the centre back [you will have a gap in the front of about 5"] Folding the tunic at the shoulder seam, mark 8" down the side, and pin together. Sew up the side seams from the bottom to that 8"mark.
This gives you a simple hooded tunic.
Modify as appropriate for your animals. Add tails to the back, triangular or round ears to the sides of the hood, and any other details.
Now draw a simple mask shape on a piece of paper. Look for animal masks on the net, to get some ideas of how to do the different animals. Draw round a pair of spectacles to get the right size!
I sewed mine with two layers of felt, and put elastic round the back.
Here's horse, rooster, chicken, goose, duck, pig and cow.
And here are some of my tunics with the masks laid on them

Hen, rooster,cow, pig, duck, horse. I've turned the head sideways on hen and rooster so you can see their 'combs'. The rooster hood is separate, with a feathered neck, because he has to change his head and become a stork halfway through the play [?!]
Baa-baa-ra the sheep was a little more challenging. She needed a Marie Antoinette 'mouton' wig. But a white hood with little black ears would have looked just as good.
I blogged about her, and the Harp costume last week.
But these were all relatively quick to make, and this pattern is easily adaptable.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to any of you out there needing to produce animal costumes for nativity plays! Feel free to share it!

Tuesday 20 November 2018

A Baker Boy, And Some Early Spice Girls

Over the weekend, the death was announced of Richard Baker, who was the newsreader of my childhood on the BBC. He was born in 1925, the son of a plasterer - but academically gifted, he won a scholarship to Grammar School and later, a place at Cambridge. The war got in the way, and he interrupted his studies to serve in the Navy on the Russian convoys.
But afterwards, he wrote to the BBC and got a job, presenting classical music programmes on radio, on "The Third Programme" [forerunner of Radio 3] It was a dream job for a bright young man who loved classical music. Then the BBC started planning News Bulletins on TV. Richard introduced the first bulletin in 1954 [altho it was John Snagge who read the news - altho he was not seen, just pictures were shown] But then they decided to allow the readers to be pictured, by 1957, Richard was the 'face' of BBC news. He did this job for 25 years. 
I vividly remember coming home from school in 1966, and the house was empty. I switched on children's TV - and it was interrupted by RB announcing, with deep sadness, the Aberfan Disaster.  He was a consummate professional, and delivered the news, good, bad, and amusing, with just the right touch of solemnity or levity as appropriate. 
Even after leaving the newsdesk, he continued to appear on other TV programmes, and presented These You Have Loved, and Your Hundred Best Tunes on the radio. Her was also involved in the BBC Proms.Many people will remember his appearance in the amazing Morecambe and Wise Christmas 1977 Newsreaders song and dance routine [here]
He was always considered a kind, witty and generous man. My parents and I used to watch him on "Face the Music" -  a classical music quiz programme - with Joyce Grenfell [there she is again!] In his latter years, he lived in a retirement home- and used to spend his days cutting clippings from the newspapers, and reading them to his fellow residents over dinner!
RIP to a man whose voice I can still hear in my head  "This is the six o'clock news from the BBC"
Also last week, we heard of the death at 89 of Babs Beverley. Along with twin sister Teddie, and elder sister Joy, she belonged to "The Beverley Sisters". This trio, popular through the 50's and 60's were almost the original Spice Girls.
They began their career when they were evacuated to Nottingham, and a photographer heard them singing [a hymn] but decided these teenagers would be great advertising Ovaltine. They could harmonise beautifully, and their career took off. 
Their hits included "Little Donkey", and "I saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus" - and their signature tune "Sisters!" written especially for them by Irving Berlin. They sang at the London Palladium, and for twenty years had great success. Some people complained that their songs were sometimes a little too racy [the girls usually protested their innocence!] They did Panto regularly [often having the scripts re-written to include three principle boys] They also covered hits from the US group The Andrews Sisters [eg Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Don't sit Under the Apple Tree etc] Joy died 3 years ago, and Teddie remains. Here's one of their seasonal pieces

Monday 19 November 2018

Chicken Run!

This school play has both a hen and a rooster in it. The issue of chicken feet was raised. I looked on the net. Helpfully Martha Stewart was in her ITT Halloween mode, and there on her website was a DIY chicken costume.
I can do this! I thought and got some rubber gloves from the poundshop. 
As per Martha's instructions, I stuffed the fingers, and hot-glued the gloves to some slippers. Here they are being tested on my feet. Martha's model is a very small child, I don't know if she can walk in her yellow feet. I really struggled in my pink ones- and so did the 2 young actors. Useless!!
For health and safety reasons, we abandoned that idea. Instead I made shapes out of wadding and felt, with an elasticated hole for the ankle. These slip on over the top of  plimsolls. Much safer. I made a pair of yellow webbed duck feet too.

We had our first rehearsal in costume on Friday afternoon. All went well - but the producer decided that perhaps the cow should have a set of udders. I promptly extricated one of the useless pink rubber gloves from its slipper and safety-pinned it to the back of the Cow Costume. Creative recycling!
One line in the play refers to "These ridiculous costumes!" - and the 8 year old who had to say this came to me afterwards, very apologetically. "Please, when I say that about the ridiculous costumes, I'm not being rude to you, Mrs Almond. We are really grateful for the costumes and think they are lovely"
I assured him that I understood- and that I thought it was extremely kind of him to say it to me. Such politeness makes it worth doing!

Sunday 18 November 2018

Hit The Pause Button!

Just two weeks from today, it will be the first Sunday of Advent.
Once again I'm going to be doing "Pause in Advent" posts for the first  4 Sundays in December.[Explanation here]
If you are interested in joining in, then please leave a comment so I can add your name to the list on my sidebar.
I know people are busy - and you may only manage one or two Advent posts [and possibly not on the Sundays] but this tradition, started by Floss a long time ago, has been appreciated by many bloggers. Posts can be on any relevant stop-the-Christmas-madness-and-just-take-a-breath theme [so not specifically Christian if you have other thoughts to share]
This is my 5th year of hosting, and you'll see I have changed our logo.
Do join us if you can- even if you're reading but not posting!

Saturday 17 November 2018

A Photograph And A Prayer

My friend Richard, retired Baptist minister, and gifted photographer, posted this on Facebook.
In the current political turmoil swirling round us I felt it was worth sharing...
 [I have no idea who else will have resigned by the time you read this]

The photograph:  the beautiful dry-stone walls that enhance the Peak District. They are strong, but need to be kept in good repair. A farmer told me of the problem of itchy cows. To relieve their torment, the cows lean and scratch themselves on the stones. Cows are heavy and strong - and can push the walls over. What follows? Chaos!
The prayer: Lord God, we see the confusion and anger in our society. The boundaries have been broken, and injustice and poverty afflict many frightened, lonely and angry people. Lord, please act in grace and mercy to bring healing and restored hope in our land.
Stir up our hearts to seek righteousness, humility, and kindness; to choose to be good neighbours and good Samaritans, helping and loving each other. Teach us again right from wrong, teach us to care and not to be judgemental. Help us to be forgiving, and be willing to receive forgiveness too.
Raise up men and women of courage and wisdom to guide us forward.
Renew our hope: turn the hearts of children to the parents, and the parents to the children, and turn all of our hearts toward You.
In your mercy and faithfulness, hear our prayer- 
in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Friday 16 November 2018

Happy Birthday, Brother!

Today is my brother Adrian's birthday. I've been so busy that I completely forgot about sending his card. Sorry, Adrian.
He is the best brother a woman could wish for. He is thoughtful, generous and incredibly hard working. 
One of the best things about getting Cornerstones has been that we can see much more of each other than we used to. 
I feel very blessed to belong to a loving family. Happy birthday Adrian - have a great day - looking forward to seeing you again at Christmas