Tuesday 30 April 2024

Suffering With Foot And Mouth

I'm falling to bits! After spending all that time and money on having the verruca on my heel dealt with, it has reappeared. And it hurts. I am not convinced it was completely removed last time. So this week I shall be visiting a different podiatrist. I had an appointment booked with the dental hygienist booked for May. The receptionist rang and said there was a cancellation, would I like Friday 26th April instead. It's a 50 mile round trip [look, this is Norfolk, I'm lucky to have a dentist at all] I somehow missed a turning, so had a slight detour, then got stuck for miles behind a very wide, slow agricultural vehicle, unable to overtake on narrow roads. I arrived 15 minutes late, and they said I was too late to be seen. "We can rebook for Monday and you won't lose your deposit"
Bob kindly drove me there - we left in good time, and arrived 40 minutes early for the 3.10pm appointment. The hygienist was running behind - I never got into the chair till 3.30pm! So I had been in the waiting room for a full hour. [Bob sat in the car listening to the radio and reading]
On Sunday evening, I did a lot of stitching on the project - I've completed the green edging - and I am now stitching the text in the border[names, dates, title etc] I drew everything out very neatly on graph paper - but I was too tired. I should have had the sense not to do any stitching after 9pm. As I finished the banner across the bottom, I realised I had counted wrongly - and everything was 2 squares out. I spent a lot of time Monday morning unpicking it all
My aim is to finish by May 19th [Pentecost] 
As well as the border text to stitch, there are lots of ends to tidy up on the back. Generally I'm feeling very upbeat about our collaborative project. 
[I have had fun with this blue plaque generator!]

Monday 29 April 2024

Two More Walsingham Churches..

After our breakfast and CS visit, we walked to the RC Church [we did not go out of town to the Slipper chapel though. Another time perhaps?] There were Roman Catholics in Walsingham till the mid 16th Century when Henry VIII made life very difficult for them. Three hundred years later, Charlotte Boyd, a Catholic convert, gave the Slipper Chapel at Houghton St Giles on the outskirts of Walsingham, intending it for liturgical use. It became the national Catholic Shrine. When the Anglicans established their shrine in the village in the 1930s, it was felt that the small brick hut being used as a Catholic Church in the village centre should be replaced. A ‘temporary church’ was put up in the Friday Market place in the 1950s but it was not until 1966 that plans were drawn up for a proper building.
Work finally commenced in 2005 to the designs of local architect Anthony Rossi. The cost of the building was well over a million pounds. It was consecrated 2006. The year is picked out in red brick and flint on the front of the church, a round tower - evocative of so many early Norfolk churches, rising above. 
You enter the building through wooden doors  where one of the first things you see on entering is a reminder that this structure is not merely traditional. A solar energy unit displays how much electricity is being generated by the panels on the roof, how much is being used, and how much stored.The Church of The Annunciation was designed to be Britain's first carbon-neutral church. 
The interior you step into beyond is wide, open and fan-shaped, focused on the narrow window behind the altar. The stained glass depicts Christ – but behind him the icthus – the ancient symbol of  the Christian faith. The other focus is the font, with the holy oils displayed behind it in containers of coloured glass. The overall sense is of simplicity and beauty.
It was very peaceful, and thoughtfully planned. Carbon neutral, and welcoming, and right in the heart of the community. I really liked the wooden pews- intelligently planned with a kneeling rail which folded out of the way, and the end two seats in each row could be flipped up too for the placement of wheelchairs or baby buggies. I sat quietly at the back, enjoying the light streaming in, and imagining what it would feel like when the place was packed with pilgrims celebrating and worshipping together. 
Then we walked down the hill to the Anglican Shrine - now nearly a hundred years old, things have been added over the years 
- an outdoor altar in front of a huge grassy area, and three tall wooden crosses to the side - a constant reminder of the events of Easter.
I must confess that although the small chapel to one side was peaceful, and the information panels in the entrance very informative, I didn't really like this site as much as the other two. Perhaps that was just me, and my aching feet.
Would I consider doing a pilgrimage? I am not sure that I would, to be honest. To set aside the everyday responsibilities and walk to a special place of prayer, re-evaluating life goals, and seeking to get to know God better are good things to do, I cannot deny that. When I was younger I felt uncomfortable about the idea of those who seemed happy to leave others to look after their family, and other tasks whilst they went off "to find themselves" or "find God". For some people, I know it has been a life changing experience. A relative took her daughter, who had major health issues, on a couple of pilgrimages to Lourdes, and it did bring her comfort, and she made lasting friendships with other pilgrims. 
But it's not for me. I am happy to get on with life in the place where I am, and find God every day, both in quiet moments of solitary reflection in surprising places - and in loud and joyful worship with others. 
But I enjoyed my visit to this corner of Norfolk which has been special to so many for so long. It was a good reminder of the breadth of the church, and the diversity of those in God's family.May you have love, joy, peace and hope, in your journey this week...

Sunday 28 April 2024


On Monday, the first place of worship we visited was St Seraphim's . This is an amazing Orthodox chapel with an intriguing history. At the beginning of the 20th century, many Russians came to Britain because of the Revolution, and the subsequent persecution of various religious groups. A little orthodox chapel was built adjoining the Anglican one, and became a place of pilgrimage for many. But sixty years ago, two priests felt these people needed their own shrine - Dr Beeching had just closed the railway - so they took over the station and converted it into a chapel. Fr David and his colleague Leon were iconographers- they made their living by painting and selling icons - and thus were able to finance and maintain the chapel.
With the golden dome, it doesn't look much like a railway station. Behind is the old stationmaster's house [with a goose!] and behind that, the "Quiet Garden"
There was much to discover about the painting of icons, and what they symbolise . I learned a new word riza which is Russian for robe. Often a family would own a beautifully painted and gilded icon - but in order to add honour to it, they would put a special metal cover over it - with apertures to reveal the hands and faces of the people portrayed. Here is an example of an icon without and with its riza
This work would add significantly to the value of the piece. [If you are unsure about the differences between reverence and worship, do check Bushlady's helpful explanation at the end of this recent post]
Having spent time in the chapel, and being amazed at the many British Saints [lots in East Anglia, it seems] we then went outside.
Passing the house, and goose, we walked down the garden. It is designed to be an area for prayer and reflection, and has a helpful guide, marking out particular spots to stop and think.
There were various structures- like this willow arbour, and the Bee Pergola [top row of photos - on the right] This had a bee hotel, and a nod to St Spiridon who wears a hat like a beeskep!
The guide leaflet says "[this place] reflects a pilgrimage in miniature, allowing space for you to contemplate past journeys, and the journeys ahead of you [much like pilgrims who used this old railway station in years gone by]
...humans cannot separate themselves from the natural world, and it is the place most turned to when in need of healing and restoration. People of all faiths and none retreat to the natural world.
The Orthodox faith has a strong tradition of reflecting the natural world through its icons - many saints in icons are identifiable by the animals or plants [beside them] This shed is where the railwaymen kept their oils and lamps safely. It is flanked by two heritage apple trees, planted in Victorian times. You are invited to consider all of those who have found rest in this garden. I thought too of the warmth and light found in the shed, and the faithful provision of God, year on year, of the harvest of fruit.
The path through the long, narrow garden goes down a gentle slope, then up to a viewpoint. You are encouraged to look back at the journey on which you have come, both literally and spiritually. I found this really meaningful, thinking of my own journey, as I begin my 70th year. My path has had ups and downs - but the overall way has been upwards. Along the way I have found warmth in loving relationships [the oil shed], sweetness in the blessings of life [the honey bees] and fruitfulness in my life and family[the apple trees] And I am grateful to God, for the sense of his presence with me every step of the way - even when I sometimes stepped off the path a little. If this had been the only place I visited on my day in Walsingham it would have been enough - the rest was just a lovely extra blessing.
I recall a favourite old hymn
Green pastures are before me,
which yet I have not seen
Bright skies will soon be o'er me
Where the dark clouds have been
My hope I cannot measure
My path to life is free
My Saviour has my treasure
And He will walk with me
May your Sunday be peaceful and blessed

Saturday 27 April 2024

Look After The Pence...

"I am going to be to be Very Thrifty for the next couple of months, Bob. You have been warned!" I announced this week. "How will I know?" he replied. Which is, I suppose, a valid question. I'm not known for my reckless prodigality. Buying myself that plaque on Monday still feels a bit wild and selfish!
But following the demise of all those household items [iron, steam mop, vacuum cleaner] and my car, there are now a load of medical bills forthcoming. Dentist, Podiatrist and Opticians bills don't come cheap [but in old age they definitely come more often, and are generally larger] 
So how am I going to be more careful ?
Diplomat, Polymath and Inventor, Ben Franklin, warned about Little Expenses, and I think he had a point.  I admit that I have got rather lazy in retirement, since we no longer have a monthly mortgage repayment hanging over us like the sword of Damocles. 

Just a few tweaks to my shopping habits could make a significant difference to my overall spending. Here are some things I think I should be doing
  • I need to be more disciplined about  taking my collapsible Stojo cup in my bag. If I buy a drink when I am out, using my own cup can usually save 50p.
  • and when I buy the aforementioned coffee, I must be firm and not have a piece of cake with it [thus benefiting waistline as well as wallet]
  • I need to get back to proper meal planning - it has got a little haphazard lately. 
  • and manage portion sizes at meal times. A pudding is a treat. Second helpings are an indulgence. If the pud serves four, then I must prepare half for the fridge or freezer before I put the dish on the table.
  • shopping trips must be more disciplined too. In the old days, if I bought something not on the list, I crossed off something else. 
Most of this stuff I know already, it is just making sure I do it. I have been strict with myself about not buying clothes following the Take Five rule. 
I went through my seed box, and realised I had almost all the seeds I needed for sowing my Raised Bed this year. I may take some spares to Gardening Club on Tuesday and see if there are any others on the Seed Exchange Table.
But actually I think Benjamin Franklin wasn't quite right. A small leak, if spotted in time, can easily be plugged. What sinks the ship is usually the large gash from the bit of the iceberg under the surface, that nobody could see. Or the violent storm that blows up out of nowhere.
We are going on holiday next month - and that will not be cheap - but we have been planning it for months, and putting aside the funds to pay for it.
It is the unexpected Big Bills that unsettle me. But I am confident that we will weather the storms. As Mum always said - the Lord will provide. 
I was in a public loo recently, and in front of me was this sign. [It seemed an odd location for such a motivational quote] But it reminded me not to fret - I have proved to myself [and the family] time and time again that I can manage on the tightest of budgets if I have to.Compared to so many others I am unbelievably rich - I am not complaining about my income, just my current inability to manage it properly. This is a Work In Progress.

PS Thank you for all the lovely comments yesterday about Rosie's Puppets 

Friday 26 April 2024

Grandma's Glove Puppets

The teaser from a fortnight ago, a stack of fabric, and now a little bit more revealed. 
It was all Rosie's idea. When we visited Swaffham Museum in the February Half Term - specifically so she could go in the Carter Room and revel in the Egyptian Antiquities - she absolutely adored the place. When the assistant said "Would you do an evaluation form with me?" our Little Miss Enthusiasm agreed. Final question [Grandma holds her breath anxiously, what will she say this time?] Rosie said the Museum was brilliant, and she liked the fact there were things in the rooms for smaller children to play with. But she liked the Carter Room best, and there was nothing in there for her little sister - "I was in there the longest and if Jess was with us, she would have been bored"
The lady admitted there wasn't anything for Littl'uns. What would Rosie suggest? Rosie said Dressing-up Clothes "We had some, I think they were put away during Covid Lockdown. Anything else?"
"Egyptian Glove Puppets, my little sister loves glove puppets" And the lady said that was a very good idea, but where could they get Egyptian Glove Puppets. "Grandma!?!" declared Rosie, very confidently. And thus I found myself agreeing to make them a set of puppets to be delivered after Easter.
I did my research, finding photos of Howard Carter, the Egyptologist, Lord Carnarvon, who financed it all, and statues of the boy King Tut [I didn't feel I should use his death mask!] Lord C always wore a hat with a wide brim and flat top, he had a big moustache. HC had a smaller hat and smaller moustache. To even things up a bit, I chose two women - Nefertiti and Hatshepsut.
I drew out some designs, and made a cardboard puppet template. Then I created the puppets from felt. My new machine was brilliant for stitching elaborate designs on garments, gold trimmings and more. And I made a bag to carry them all in. This week, Bob and I took them over to the Museum. Tim the Trustee and his staff were quite delighted.
We went to the Carter Room, and he showed me that the costumes are back in use - and also took photos of the puppets. He said they'd like to have the new puppets out on display, but don't have a stand for them. "I could make one" said my Shed Man!

Tim had asked if Rosie would be coming with us to deliver them. I explained she was back at school in London. So they gave me a gift for her, because she was the inspiration for the puppets. I did an "unboxing" over WhatsApp, that evening. Rosie recognised it instantly. She is quite thrilled with the model of Bastet the Egyptian Cat God. I thought that was extremely kind of them, to encourage a child like that. Swaffham Museum is independent, run by community volunteers, on a shoestring budget. 

I love the way I could use so many of the embroidery patterns already installed in my machine, I think Nefertiti is my favourite, but I am pleased with Carnarvon's hat too. And the inbuilt font meant I could stitch names on the backs [co-ordinating fabrics from one of my curtain sample books]

Have you ever made puppets?

Thursday 25 April 2024

What I Bought In Walsingham

There is always an issue when I go out for the day - what will it cost? And some venues may feel very expensive, and there are "add-ons" like parking, food etc. Our Walsingham trip was not too bad - although we could have spent a lot of money if we'd wanted...
Little Walsingham is a very small place, and everywhere was in reasonable walking distance, we paid £4 for our parking [I do like this sign from another religious venue]
We arrived and parked at 9.30am. After our first visit [the Orthodox Church] we walked back to the village centre, and visited the "Read and Digest" Tearoom. by the old village Pump.
This was a quirky little venue - with an amazing selection of teas, and delicious sausage rolls [plus cakes, scones, coffees and more] We each had two generously sized rolls [his with mustard seeds, mine with red onion] made from local pork, with a good pastry crust, and locally sourced chutney. The teapots each held 2½ cups of tea. The bill was about £15 - for a very filling breakfast.
We then walked up to the Catholic Chapel. We passed another tea and gift shop [closed on Mondays] 
I was particularly taken with the three metal magi on a rocking donkey which was in the window. My photo did not come out [too many reflections] but I found this online. Cute, but too expensive!
Then we visited the "Let The Children Live!"Charity Shop. I have never visited a CS with two rails of ecclesiastical vestments before! Surplices and stoles and scarves etc...And everything at very low prices- books were 4 for £1. I found two I liked, a Pie Minister Cookbook, and an Ian Rankin detective one I'd not read. I couldn't see anything else I wanted, so gave the lady £1 anyway,
There will be pies, Bob will be happy! I didn't buy any candles, or cards saying "I prayed for you at Walsingham", which were on sale in all the churches we visited. I think God hears our prayers wherever we are, and location is not as important as the action of doing it. In the CofE church there were racks of small prayer cards, with a sign saying these were all free, so I took 2 for special friends. 
And then we walked back to the car. I bought my plaque in the Shrine Shop [£12.50]
We drove back via Fakenham and stopped at the big Sue Ryder CS. Bob got a bit of audio gear and I bought a craft book [to be reviewed later] total spend there £7.
We spent around £33 in Walsingham, but that included breakfast - and then there was the CS spend on the way home. The plaque was a special treat to celebrate 3 years of retirement at Cornerstones.
It was lovely to have a morning out together - we've been quite busy with other stuff in recent days. We were home by 2 for a late sandwich lunch.
And I gained a lot from the day which cost me nothing...So I am very happy.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

To Be A Pilgrim...*

This is the story...Nearly 1000 years ago, a wealthy woman called Richeldis De Faverches lived up in North Norfolk in a village called Walsingham, A devout woman, she prayed daily, and in a dream, the Virgin Mary came to her, and instructed her to build a replica of her home in Nazareth - the Holy House. So she called upon builders to construct a wooden dwelling, with the plans giver to her by Mary - the place where Gabriel announced to her that she would bear God's son, and the home where Jesus grew up. There were problems with the building, but after a night in prayer, Richeldis found the construction miraculously completed. 
Walsingham became a shrine "England's Nazareth" and thousands of pilgrims made the journey to worship there. There were stopping places along the route "slipper chapels" where pilgrims could find rest and refreshment.Then in 1538, Henry VIII ordered it to be burned to the ground, and all the gold and jewels to be taken back to London. The shrine fell into disuse. In 1896, the slipper chapel at the edge of Walsingham was purchased for Catholic worship. 
In the grounds of the abbey is a space where the 'house' stood. Now there is the main shrine in the village centre [CofE - greatly extended in the late 1960s] the Slipper Chapel [RC] a new RC church right in the centre of the village [built in 2006] and two orthodox chapels. [One in Little Walsingham, the other in nearby Great WalsinghamAnd thousands of Christians from many traditions make their pilgrimages here, every year.
In 1965 when we moved to Norfolk, people said it was an important place to visit - even for Nonconformists like my family. It was dark and gloomy in the old chapel - my little brother had never seen so many candles, and thought it was Jesus birthday, and wanted to blow them out for Him! My parents were bothered by the gift shops selling statues of Mary and I felt it all seemed full of superstition. But we prayed that God would bring light, love and hope to all those who came in search of Him.
Fast forward nearly 60 years. "What shall we do tomorrow?" said Bob. And I said I wanted to go to Walsingham ["to make a pilgrimage" sounds rather OTT] It was an interesting experience. There are a lot of new, bright, light places for prayer and worship. Obviously still lots of Marian theology - signs of previous visitors: Roman Catholics, High Anglicans and Orthodox believers, much in evidence. 
I did like the sign on the Pilgrim House, reminding late night revellers to be silent!On a damp Monday in late April the village was quiet, and peaceful. I took loads of pictures. As well as visiting the churches, we went in the TeaRooms, and Charity Shop. 
In the Shrine Shop I treated myself to a lovely Black Dog Tile, the "Somerset Blessing" to put up at Cornerstones near the one Liz gave me.
I will put more pictures in a future post. I am still processing my thoughts and feelings about the whole idea of what it means to be a pilgrim in 2024
*this is the refrain from John Bunyan's great hymn, which comes in Part 2 of his book The Pilgrim's Progress

Tuesday 23 April 2024

My Creative, Crafty County

I managed to get to this event on Friday - and ran out of time to see everything. Then I needed to go into Norwich on Saturday, so made a second visit. There was just SO much to see and do this year. I didn't take as many photos as I intended because I was caught up in chats with other crafters, and sometimes the crowds of people milling around made pictures difficult.
It is nearly eight years since I exhibited at the C&TA event at the Cathedral, and decided I would join the association when we retired. I have finally signed up! 
But I do think the logo looks like "Costa" don't you?
Upstairs there were lots of have-a-go stands. Do some stitching, ragrugging, painting, crochet...knit a few rows for the Giraffe-Scarf etc. Next years GoGo Trail will have five different animals from the Savannah. I knitted a couple of rows at the scarf table! 
When not Cross Stitching, Kirsten is exploring ZeroWaste clothing, and bog coats. So I just had to sent her pictures of Cat, who makes ZW jackets from old embroidered tablecloths. A very friendly woman.
I think I might wear one of these as a summer cover up over a strappy evening frock, or for a wedding outfit.
Also on the ground floor, in the side gallery, were lots of C&TA exhibits, recent, and going back a few years [the show never happened during covid, but people did even more stitching then]
Fab Tudor project - Queen Bess has hair made from unravelled copper scouring pads! And there is a new tapestry under construction for the Castle- 

these are some of the items which will also be on show there.
The Spinners, Weavers and Dyers have made a regal banner too.

At first I was confused by the title 
Charles III R 2023 - A King for all Seasons.
Elizabeth died in 2022, didn't she? Then I realised, they had to wait twelve months until he had been on the throne for all four seasons!
In the basement part of the Forum, there was a display of all Margaret Seaman's knitted treasures. She is 92 now and says this is the final time she will come and exhibit. She has raised thousands of pounds for charity over the years. 
There was such a lot to look at, lots of inspiration - and I did enjoy myself. The C&TA stand had some of their literature on display, including the programme from the Norwich Shawl exhibition in 2016. I turned the pages over, so it was open at the one showing the picture of my three tea cosies!
I've paid my membership fee now - so I think I can display a bit of my handwork!
This event is well worth attending - it is free - and you get to meet some very talented people, and have the opportunity to explore new crafting skills.
If I keep practising with my new machine, I might have something for next year.
One final poster by the exit door was very touching. Loose Ends is a global charity which aims to ease grief, create community and inspire generosity by mixing volunteer 'handwork finishers' with projects people have left unfinished due to death or disability. What a lovely idea!

Monday 22 April 2024

Taking A Short Cut

It's sheer vanity, but I decided to take a selfie on my birthday. Bob was busy in the kitchen preparing our steak dinner, to be eaten by candlelight. My hair has got far too long [apart from my fringe, which I foolishly trimmed myself - very badly] I have been wearing it tied in a little ponytail to keep it off my face. On Friday I went into SuperCuts in Norwich, and Karen rectified the damage. I think it looks a lot tidier. [Thanks K]

Sunday 21 April 2024

Think Before You Speak...

I am a bit late posting the April calendar picture. A good reminder for all of us who write blogs. Perhaps I shouldn't have ranted quite so much recently!

Saturday 20 April 2024

Catching The Post

A little bit of a moan. On Thursday, a card arrived stating that there was a package, at Dereham Parcels Office, and I needed to pay £1.50. I could either 

  1. pay and collect in person [providing evidence of name and address] 
  2. pay online and have it delivered,
  3. put stamps to £1.50 on the card, post it, and parcel would be delivered.
  4. ignore it
I decided against 4 [it might be a birthday present]

I have stamps, and was about to choose option 3, when I realised the address on the card was wrong - not Corner stones,  but Corner House,  and it said Road not Close.
What about Option 2 - no this is no good, as the online form asked me to 'fill in the address as on the card' - which was wrong [and no postcode either] and the identification number had not been filled in. So it's option 1. 
"I will go in to the sorting office this afternoon or Friday" I said to Bob. Except there were three possible options for the opening times listed online. I rang our lovely village postmistress. "I'm sorry, I can't tell you, Angela" she apologised. "They have sent me two different sets of times - they either open at 8 or 9, and close at  either 10 or 12"
I went at 9.30 Friday figuring that way I might get in.
And yes the office was open.
I passed the card through the slot. The woman didn't ask for any identification. She found the "This is too thick and too heavy- you should have more stamps on this" I politely pointed out I was not the sender, but the recipient, and gave her the cash. "Could I just say, I had real problems finding out your opening times. How do you know when the office is open?" "Its 8-10 weekdays, 8-12 Saturdays" "Yes, but how does anyone know that?" and she actually said "Well I know because I work here, and also there's a sign on the wall" "But online, you have three sets of times listed online, and when I rang my village post office, I was told they had been sent two different lists" "That's not my fault" "I am not saying it is, but can you ask somebody higher up to sort it out, please?"
When I got outside, I looked at the envelope - the person who sent it had written my address correctly, legibly and  included the postcode. Whoever filled in the card at the Sorting Office hadn't even bothered to get those address details correct. Oh well, at least I got my birthday gift, eventually.
My daffs outside are coming to an end, and the wind blew this one over - I picked it, trimmed the stalk and stuck it in a bottle to brighten the kitchen. Four small blooms on one stalk. It is a variety called "Cheerfulness"- I decided to adopt this attitude rather than be grumpy all day. 
And life gradually got much better as the day progressed! The rain stopped, the sun came out, and I went into Norwich and met lots of lovely people.