Tuesday, February 27, 2007

“it’s ok, I meant to do this….”

Went down to the basement over the weekend, only to discover this rather embarrassed cat. Somehow, it had managed to jump through the external window bars (presumably at high level where there are cat-sized gaps) and trap itself between the bars and the window glass - just how it managed to manoeuvre itself into this position is completely beyond us! Decided to leave things for an hour or so to see if the cat had a cunning escape plan, but apparently it hadn’t (apart from starving itself for a month and then simply crawling through the bars?). Freedom was duly secured (eventually) - although its manner was somewhat undignified.

Friday, February 23, 2007

lovely break

Friday and home to Bristol. Feel recharged. Found time most mornings to use the mayBe prayer mat resources (especially prayers for the beginning of the day), the Celtic Daily Prayer book and Anthony Bloom’s book “Meditations on a Theme”. Went round to Mags+Jez’s house in Goveton last night for a lovely meal – and to listen to water cascading down the hill from the adjoining field after so much rain this week!
Photo: icon+candle in the sanctuary, Old Walls

burgh island

Thursday. Weather forecast awful – predicting wet all day after all night rain. Drove into Kingsbridge for great breakfast and newspapers at Pig Finca (after Moira had had to wade to Aveton Gifford car park to retrieve car!). Decided to drive to Burgh Island – with its art deco hotel right out of an Agatha Christie novel. The rain stopped, the sun came out and everything looked wonderful! Walked across causeway as the tide went out, climbed up to the ruined chapel, watched wild seas and graceful seagulls. Lunch at the Pilchard Inn on the island, sitting outside in the glorious sunshine – and reminding ourselves that it’s still February!
Photos: Burgh Island (central image is the sea tractor for carrying guests at high tide)

battling with batik

Last summer, I assisted art teacher Irene as she explained the intricacies of batik to a group of 13 year olds during “Activities Week” – my role on the day was little more than encourager! I was fascinated and decided that I’d like to produce some simple line drawings using the technique. So, armed with my new wax melting pot, tjanting tool and pots of watercolour ink, I made my first tentative steps. It was all going to be so easy – not much to it really, just like drawing with any of my pens but using a fat wax version instead.
In the event, it was an absolute disaster!
I’ll persevere in my own ham-fisted way, of course (after counselling!), but how come those 13 year-olds made it look so easy?

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Wednesday morning. Clear sky. Walked up the hill beyond the church. Watched sun rise and listened to/watched sky larks. Invented egg, celeriac mash, bacon+tomato breakfast.
Photo: sunrise looking towards Sorley from Aveton Gifford

grey+misty day

Brief note made on Sunday evening. Another early start to the day and walked down to the River Avon estuary – two problems: complete misty greyness (no sun/sunrise!) and the estuary road was totally flooded (high tide), which frustrated my planned walk. We drove to Bantham after breakfast and ambled along the Devon South Coast Path for three hours – still very misty and a day when sea and sky bled into each other. Met up with lovely Mags+Jez for a meal at Pig Finca on Saturday evening. They gave me a book for my birthday - “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” by Paul Torday - which I managed to finish by 5pm on Sunday (very unusual for me and thoroughly recommended)!
Photo: view towards Bigbury-on-Sea and Burgh Island

old walls

No internet access, so here are some belated posts. Scribbled note made just after breakfast on Saturday. Great to wake up in Devon! Lit the wood burner then went for a walk (Moira was still in bed, obviously!), watched the sun rise over the hills on an overcast morning, read the newspaper, listened to Nick Drake and drank fresh coffee. As great friend Ken would say: “someone’s got to do it”!
Photos: sunrise and fire at Old Walls, Aveton Gifford

Friday, February 16, 2007


The prospect of a week’s holiday/retreat at Old Walls, near Kingsbridge in Devon, beckons. Hope to get down there tonight so that we can wake up to crisp freshness and clear blue skies in the morning (we can dream!).
Photo: boat at sunrise on the River Avon estuary (two minute walk from Old Walls), taken March 2005

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

st valentine

I came across this potato and couldn’t resist taking a photograph! Sadly, Moira is hardly going to be swept off her feet if I gave her a card containing the spud image and a few choice words: “my love is like a heart-shaped potato…..”!
Maybe I should have got the M+S marketing people on the case?
“This isn’t just any heart-shaped potato, this is a heart-shaped potato that has been caressed by carefully-prepared soil containing well-rotted manure and gently harvested by a sensitive, experienced gardener with strong hands and a firmly-muscled body, kissed by the rays of the sun….”.
Maybe not!
PS: I decided to give her the potato card anyway - partly because M+S = Moira+Steve (obviously). Spooky eh?

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I’ve spent a fair amount of time this week really enjoying listening to three new CDs bought for me by my daughters (and their husbands!) – “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne; “O” by Damien Rice; and “Ys” by Joanna Newsom (all excellent!). My musical tastes are very broad and I love being surprised by music or artists previously unfamiliar to me. I’ve been very fortunate to receive some fantastic music from family and friends over recent years – which makes a change from me simply coming out of shops armed with cheap CD versions of stuff I used to have on vinyl or cassette!
The birthday festival fortnight (I have a lot of Aquarian friends – all much younger than me!) continued over the weekend and included celebrating Tamsie’s birthday at the BocaBar on Friday night here in Bristol and lunch at Quod in Oxford on Saturday with great friends Gail (her birthday too!)+Ian and Debby+Ken. Lovely time!

Friday, February 09, 2007

shopping with husbands

Moira seems to spend rather a lot of her time on the Archer’s Message Boards (Radio 4 stuff) these days - although I don’t think she actually listens to “The Archer’s” programme itself anymore. She thought this was quite funny….

Thursday, February 08, 2007

venice, bogarde and time

One of my favourite films is Visconti’s “Death in Venice”. I recently watched it again on DVD and was once again struck by the film’s powerful beauty, the evocative glimpses of Venice (perhaps my favourite city) and, of course, Dirk Bogarde’s haunting performance.
It reminded me that I’d written to Bogarde (via his publisher) after reading his wonderful three volume autobiography. I hadn’t expected any response but, several months later, I received a handwritten envelope from France enclosing a V+A postcard from him thanking me for my letter. I kept the postcard but couldn’t remember where I’d “filed” it. I've just tracked it down - I’d put in one of his books - it was dated 8 October 1990.
So where have all those years gone then?

Monday, February 05, 2007

staring into the distance?

I have been really challenged by the various recent posts on clergy life (Paul’s blog)/white van man (Bishop Mike’s blog) and the like. As things stand, given the Church’s diminishing manpower and financial resources, it would seem that any newly-ordained priest faces a lifetime dominated by administration; mini-church politics (nightmare!); the prospect of spreading oneself very thinly between an increasing number of church congregations; and a very difficult family life! His or her original calling is likely to have become swamped in the process. The present model surely can’t continue to be applied in the Anglican Church. Paul’s comment about those considering strategies to cope with the future forgetting the parable of the seed (which needs to die if anything is to grow) seems entirely apt.
The Emerging/Alternative Church movement would seem to have much to commend it – albeit that it appears to thrive on the basis of relatively small, intimate groups. If I were a priest, I’m pretty sure this would be the kind of church community I’d like to lead/be part of - but initially, at least, I would need some financial security and the freedom to set up and establish (or take over) a church community without the need to provide all the other “services”. As a “follower”, I think I’d like to be part of a similar group. Over the next 10 years, I can only see more and more people opting for belonging to this type of church community – and, in all probability, such groups being assisted by the most talented and visionary leaders.
I'm incredibly naive on such matters, but maybe it’s against this backdrop that the Anglican Church (both nationally and regionally) should be starting to brainstorm bold and radical medium-/long-term strategies?
Photo: Staring into the distance on Berrow beach (with apologies to Paul Roberts for "borrowing" the inspired name of his blog - which is also pretty inspiring!)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

s(up)porting heroes?

The Six Nations Rugby internationals start today! A new coach, new skipper, new squad…. and new hope? It’s been a really difficult time supporting any England team recently - dismal football World Cup performance; embarrassing cricket in the Ashes series and the one-dayers (apart from yesterday!). Surely the rugby team won’t let us down?
Well, after last year, don’t put your mortgage on it!
Come on England!
Photo: Phil Vickery, England Rugby captain
Footnote (6.30pm): of course, I never had any doubts (they won.... and Villa won too!)

Friday, February 02, 2007


Came across this image earlier in the week when Stuart borrowed my camera to take photographs of various pieces of his glass artwork. It’s one of my favourite pieces and shows Ruth at their allotment in her pink wellies – I just find it incredibly beautiful (and it makes me very happy!).
Photo: detail from “Ruth” by Stuart Low (etched, painted+leaded glass)
PS: if you like beautiful art, think you should also look at good friend Tamsie’s website

Thursday, February 01, 2007

first birthday

Just received this picture from Alice+Dave of Mikey celebrating his first birthday (yesterday)….. no magicians, no goody-bags, no party games - just plain old-fashioned cake (and a candle)!
Who needs anything else?