Friday, June 29, 2007

more 50th birthdays

This weekend Moira+I will be joining up with the lovely Smith family and lots of great friends to help celebrate Mags+Jez’s 50th birthdays in Devon (continuing our theme of only mixing with people younger than ourselves). A barbeque tonight; meal at Pig Finca, Kingsbridge tomorrow plus general celebrations; and a beach party on Sunday. Unfortunately, having just checked the forecast, it looks as if we’re in for Glastonbury-like weather (ie. today: reasonable; tomorrow: heavy rain; Sunday: heavy showers).... and I don't own any wellingtons!
We’ll probably be playing “happy families” in a pub somewhere!
Photo: Mags (right) and Jez (left) with Moira in the middle from a previous Devonian weekend. They're wearing well aren't they (even if Jez does seem to need a walking stick these days)!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Fellow blogger Matt Rees made the following comment in one of his recent blogs: “It looks like everyone has been well and truly bitten by the great bug that is facebook - I know I certainly have. And it looks to me like there's far less blogging happening as a result”.
I’d never really paid much attention to facebook, but his comment spurred me into checking things out and I’m now a fully-registered member! I immediately discovered that there were lots of facebook people at school and so I’ve been able to make contact with some of them (even if I do see most of them every weekday!). It’s clearly very early days (ie. about a day and a half!) and I realise that I don’t really know how to do things in the simplest way or appreciate all that I could do using facebook. However, thus far, I’m finding it all very frustrating (and somewhat disappointing) and it seems little more than an on-line chatroom. In order to contact anyone, I think I need to send them a message (assuming that I’ve managed to track them down – and it’s not always easy to be sure you’ve got the right person!) and wait for them to respond before you can read their profile etc. I also haven’t yet worked out how to import photographs to accompany any notes I might write.
Not sure this is for me… may just have to keep blogging?

Sunday, June 24, 2007 is back

After what seems like absolutely ages, our number40 website is back on-stream at last! A combination of server problems, hackers, software problems and my own inability to obey simply instructions I’m afraid. It might take a little time to update everything, but I’ll try to do so over the next fortnight if possible.
Apologies - bet you’ve been trying every day just in case we’d sorted things out (then again).
Photo: some of Ruth’s hand made baby clothes

Saturday, June 23, 2007

update to “people’s music”

You need to have read my 8 June blog to make any sense of this! It’s been great to continue to receive such a lot of brilliant feedback. Somewhat pathetically, I’ve been downloading most of the suggested tracks and seem to have compiled an amazing list of wonderful music as a result (and I now find myself relating each piece of music to the person who suggested it, which is rather nice!). I know I’ve slightly cheated by including two tracks from some people but have just put together the first of a number of compilation CDs (in no particular order) for playing in the car and it’s just brilliant (and incredibly varied):
1. “Small Hours” by John Martyn (Si S)
2. “Where are you Tonight?” by June Tabor (Cara H)
3. “Meet on the Ledge” by Fairport Convention (Ellen L)
4. “Coulibaly” by Amadou+Mariam (Dave M-D)
5. “How We Operate” by Gomez (Alan B)
6. “Beat Bop Part 2” by The Rammellzee (Pete R)
7. “That’s Entertainment” by The Jam (Pete R)
8. “The Osmonds” by Denim (Si S)
9. “Kathy’s Song” by Simon+Garfunkel (Cara H)
10. “Thunder on the Mountain” by Bob Dylan (Bob F)
11. “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke (Chris H)
12. “To Be Alone with You” by Sufjan Stevens (John H)
13. “I Heard it through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye (Moira)
14. “Newborn” by Elbow (Su S)
15. “When I go Deaf” by Low (Su S)
16. “All I Want is You” by U2 (Alan B)
If you’ve not yet let me know about your two tracks, please do so!
Photo: John Martyn
PS: I’m pretending that Si’s wife Su submitted a couple of the tracks (somewhat predictably, Si keeps coming up with his latest favourite pieces of music – which, I must say, are always brilliant!)

Monday, June 18, 2007

mayBe on the quantocks

Spent a wonderful time on the Quantock Hills with lots (26 of us, I think?) of old and new friends from the mayBe community, Oxford over the weekend. Worship, liturgies, prayers, stories, laughter, conversation, music, great food, drink, swimming, face-painting, football, frisbee, cricket, long walks, silk-screen printing, huge campfire and even some Andy Goldsworthy-type art installations!
Now need another weekend to recover!

Friday, June 15, 2007


As captivating as “The Apprentice” tv programme has been, I can’t help feeling uneasy about the dog-eat-dog recipe for “success” that it seems to provide as the essential “must” for all successful business people. It’s all a little too much like “Thatcher’s Britain” for me, I’m afraid. It all appears to be about "winning at all costs" and I can certainly recall an advert on one of the Business pages in a national newspaper a few years ago declaring that "The Rules of Fair Play were invented for Losers" – which I found deeply depressing. I know that this is not how it should be.
This might sound somewhat precious (who me?), but I included the following prayer in the intercessions I wrote for a church service at the time:
“Dear Lord, life often seems to be all about pace; about pressure; about agendas; about deadlines; about instant action and urgent decisions; about lies; about greed; about worry and stress; about ourselves - but not about others or you. Help us to keep our lives in balance and to reflect your love for us”.
Amen (even though I loved the programme!).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

there are good people out there!

A couple of weeks ago I was very depressed about my camera. The zoom only worked if I used super-human strength and, even then, it wouldn’t actually allow me to take photographs! I took it into Jessops for their advice; they were very nice, but essentially told me that it would probably cost me £200 for someone just to look at it and that it would be more cost-effective to consider a new camera. I returned home duly depressed and started looking on e-Bay for a possible replacement - I just couldn’t afford to splash out on a new camera. Moira suggested that I took it to a local repairer (and even downloaded details from google for me!). I made some comment about them just telling me what Jessops had already told me (gracious to the last!). Anyway, I DID ring the firm (Luton Camera Repairs, Bristol) and they agreed to look at the camera; the man there was really nice and said he was optimistic he could help me. He rang me back a week later and told me he’d fixed it. I duly collected my camera and paid the bill….. £29.38!
Moral: always listen to your wife and don’t just assume everyone out there is out to get you!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

song of the earth

As Moira will tell you, I’m not a ballet fan. There was the famous occasion when we attended a premier performance by Ballet Rambert in Oxford (we’re sophisticated like that!). It was a Friday evening; I was tired, the theatre was hot and unfortunately I fell asleep(!). The performance finished and was met by loud applause; it woke me up with a huge jolt and I immediately shot up out of my seat and discovered that I’d led a standing ovation for the performance (much to Moira’s embarrassment)!
However, there was a piece on Channel 4 News last week about Darcy Bussell’s imminent retirement as principal dancer of the Royal Ballet and it featured excerpts from “Song of the Earth” which was to be her final performance. I found myself sitting absolutely transfixed by its shear beauty - the amazing intricacies of the choreography and the incredible skill of the dancers. I even found myself watching the final performance on the BBC on Friday night – just spellbinding!
PS: there is no truth in the rumour that we’re having wall mirrors fixed in our basement!

Friday, June 08, 2007

people’s music

I’ve been irritating family+friends alike recently (what’s new?)! This followed a conversation I’d had on the back of such things as “Desert Island Discs” (8 favourite records for your desert island) and Fi Glover’s “Inheritance Tracks” on Radio 4 (where people select a piece of music from their childhood and another they’d like to pass on to their children – or something like that!).
I thought it would be “interesting” to receive feedback from friends/family suggesting two pieces of music on the following basis:
“if I had to choose just ONE piece of music, this would be it” (it might be just a great piece of music or something that has special significance), and
“Steve, I think you’d like this piece of music” (or "Steve, I think you should listen to this”)
I duly e-mailed lots of people and the responses received to date have been fascinating and, from a purely selfish viewpoint, could well open my eyes/ears to new musical horizons (eg. “Beat Bop” by Rammellzee and K-Rob; “Where are you Tonight?” by June Tabor; “Coulibaly” by Amadou+Miriam; “Thunder on the Mountain” by Bob Dylan) plus well-known classics (eg. “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke; “Kathy’s Song” by Simon+Garfunkel).
PS: my selections (and I realise that everyone’s selection will vary on a day-to-day basis): perhaps 1. “Love Letter” by Nick Cave and 2. “Early Morning Ramblings” by Beth Rowley?
Photo: Nick Cave

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

trinity cakes

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday and I spent part of my morning trying to explain the concept of the Trinity (God the Father/Son/Holy Spirit to those who don’t know these things) to a group of 11-14 year-olds. What I should have done was to have got my lovely friend Ellen Loudon to do it! At the Foundation service in the evening, she got us all to “imagine God” in pictures, sounds, numbers, words, sacraments, lights, thoughts, stillness, laughter…and cakes!
Well it worked for me – and the cake tasted REALLY good too!
PS: cake photo taken from Ellen’s blog without permission!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

did golfing opponents take bungs (again)?

I didn’t cry (see yesterday’s blog)! In fact, it was definitely a case of déjà vu and I played pretty well and ended up within 2 shots of my 15 handicap (this will mean absolutely nothing to non-golfers, so please accept my apologies!). Once again, and much to my embarrassment and my golfing partner’s pleasure, we beat our gracious opponents with 6 holes still to go! Back in October, I claimed to have discovered the magic formula for golfing success and vowed to wait another 3 months before playing again.
Clearly, the formula still works even if you leave it 7 months!

Friday, June 01, 2007

I used to be a golfer…..

There WAS a time when I used to play golf with my brilliant mates Pete+Ken+Steve every Friday afternoon, throughout the year (in the winter, we sometimes only played 4 holes due to lack of daylight – but at least we DID play!). This has undoubtedly been the most difficult adjustment in coming to live in Bristol. Unfortunately, I hardly play these days (the last time was October 2006) and have just relinquished my membership at Stockwood Vale (I played at total of 3 rounds there last year!). But I'll be back(!) and I’m actually travelling up to Oxford very early this morning to play golf with Ken+Steve+Colin at my old club at Studley Wood. Having not swung a club for such a long time (and I’ve only just managed to locate my ancient golf shoes!), it could be quite interesting!
I might cry.
Photo: Steve+me+Coach+Ken at St Andrew’s in 2003 on our wonderful Scottish golf tour (met the amazing Tony/Coach for the first time when we played golf in New York State in 2001 – a truly lovely man).