Wednesday, 31 March 2021

March Past

It is the last day of March. The year is already one quarter through - we've passed the equinox, and altered the clocks. On Monday I celebrated 13 years of blogging. In the next 12 days Bob and I shall celebrate Easter**, celebrate my 66th birthday, I'll become an Old Age Pensioner, he will conduct his final service at Ferndown on April 11th ...and then on the 12th, the Big Adventure of moving to Cornerstones and entering Retirement. 

It has been a very strange year. I remember vividly our journey back to Dorset after our Christmas trip to Norfolk at the end of 2019. Bob was driving and I was taking notes of our conversation. As we understood it then, preparation for retirement had four strands - 

  1. seriously downsizing the contents of the Manse. Selling stuff, giving it away, recycling it.
  2. working out what needs to happen at Cornerstones [eg new garage, new handbasin, patio door replacement, paint the lounge etc]
  3. helping to equip UCF to operate without a minister in the gap till the next one comes - handing over jobs, leaving necessary information, and generally encourage the fellowship to continue doing all the good stuff in the church and the community.
  4. plus planning in a three week stay in Manchester with Steph after the baby arrived, when Gary returned to work after his paternity leave.
How easily our plans can be thrown into the air - I went to Manchester in early March for Steph's Baby Shower. It was so good to see her, and her lovely MIL Andrea. And I came back on the [almost empty] train- which was very late into Euston. My original plan had been to walk to Waterloo - but timings meant I caught the tube instead - which was jam packed with commuters. And then there was my dry cough, and the anosmia, and the self-isolation- and Bob got ill...[I didn't say here just how ill he was]...but we recovered 
And all the plans were abandoned.
Church life shifted to Zoom and WhatsApp - no more services in the building, meetings in the Church Hall, or homegroups and pastoral visits in people's houses. Bob's study became a recording studio - and instead of play costumes I was making headbands to hold facemasks, and pyjamas for the teddybears. For the first time in forever, I wasn't planning Holiday Club Crafts.
George arrived and we met him online. It was all a bit emotional. #4 on our list had been abandoned. We finally got to Manchester in June, and sat in the garden with our new grandson. Then on to Norfolk to find a leaky boiler, and Rosie unsettled, missing Nursery, and no real contact with anyone other than her Mum and Dad. I spent the summer 'in a bubble' at Cornerstones, teaching Rosie, and enabling her parents to get their work done.
Item #1 on the retirement list was sorely neglected, and #2 was impossible. #3 was the only thing that really did get sorted- but in such a different way. Training people in preparing YouTube services, organising PA gear and cameras for future Livestream events. Setting up WhatsApp groups and PhoneBuddy teams. In 40 years, I have never been conscious of Bob working so hard, learning new skills in record time, under such strange and stressed conditions.
One year on and Steph's back at work, George is settling in well at Nursery, Rosie is loving school, and I thank the Lord that the family are thriving. What an unexpected twelve months...but we have got through it! 

Everyone has a different story to tell - so sad, some happy. We must not forget the lessons we have learned about kindness and caring, giving and sharing - I hope that now the evenings are lighter, and rules are gradually being relaxed, we can all work towards a brighter, safer, healthier year ahead.
**three special UCF services this weekend - look out for details.


  1. Yes, it has been an eventful year, hasn't it? I, too, am grateful that we have managed to get through it in one piece!

    1. And I am so glad that YOU have stayed truly well through it all, Bless

  2. What a year.

    The way things are going here you will be at Cornerstones before I get to the bungalow!
    Haven't had a letter about my pension - something else to get sorted once I move

    1. Have you got a Govt Gateway log-in number? It might be worth you going online to see what you can find there. I have to say that they have been remarkably helpful with mine. You CAN start the process anytime within 4 months of your 66th birthday.

  3. Indeed, what a different picture it has been to the one you've planned. You've been amazing through all of it, I count myself lucky to know you through all this. You've done so much good through this-kindness, generosity, inspiring and constant faith. I'm so thankful that Bob got well again x

    1. Kezzie, you have been an encouragement all through - thank you!

  4. I think you underestimate all the things you have accomplished this past year! And, while you have been very sad at missing out on so much with your daughters and grandchildren - you have always helped to keep up all our spirits - so thank you for that.
    I'm sure the next couple of weeks will be very hectic so good luck with it all!

    1. Thank you Margie for your kind words. Reading of the work you've been doing to bless you community in Canada has been an encouragement to me, over these past months

  5. Angie, I will be thinking about you on 12th, hope all goes well for your move and many happy years in Cornerstones. I will look forward to reading your blog from a new venue and how you both cope with retirement. Anne.


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