Daily Blog in Pandemic

12th August 2020

Dear Friends,

I think I had reached 2018 in my accounts of adventures abroad.  I told you about the Iona 'virtual pilgrimage' in Germany, about being 'perdu' in France, about my trip to Oberammergau in 2010, about the Holy Land pilgrimage in 2013 and the unexpected hard work, which I enjoyed, for the talk on Henry Piggott in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome in 2017. Well, in 2018, to celebrate our 60th birthdays, Jen, her sister Denise, and I bought tickets for a 5 day coach holiday to Belgium and Holland - the climax of the holiday being an Andre Rieu concert (light classical with lots of, what Jen calls, 'messing about') in Maastrict.  

Things started off ok but, as the pick-up coach proceeded from Norfolk down to Kent, it appeared that things were not all as they should be.  The 'courier' was not really a courier and she didn't want to be there.  She turned out to be the partner of the coach driver who worked for a coach company and who had been drafted in by Goldcrest Holidays - the night before! - to staff our holiday.  The said driver had persuaded his partner to join him under pain of what, we didn't know!  Anyway, they didn't know what they were doing (and didn't seem to have sufficient instructions) and, for much of the time away, the passengers were looking up the route, points of interest in the brochure, etc. to tell the couple what to do.  Things didn't get off to a very good start when we arrived at the hotel in Belgium and the partner refused to book us in as she wasn't really the courier...  the hotel wouldn't let us in without one....  she must have agreed in the end because we ended up getting a room. 

The funniest thing that happened - and we quite enjoyed the trip despite everything - was on the excursion day when there was an option to be dropped off in Brussels before the coach was travelling elsewhere.  The driver had the directions for the drop-off point but it was a special day in Brussels and roads were closed off for later ceremonies. He drove round and round for about an hour trying to make it to the specified place. [We had never been to Brussels so we didn't really mind - we were getting an unusual view of the city...]  Eventually, the front passengers (including ourselves) gathered that we were quite near the location and we strongly encouraged (!) the driver to drop people off where we were and to pick them up again from there at the end of the day. So, after this hour driving round, the coach stopped and the courier (who wasn't a courier) asked who was getting off in Brussels?  Nobody was!  We had had all that driving round for no purpose!  We didn't know whether to laugh or cry... but the laughing won. 

The worst was yet to happen but the later incident was not totally the couple's fault.  We got to Maastrict and we were set down at a coach drop-off point.  It was explained to us that we would be picked up at a different place - in the centre near the concert square - but it was not explained very well.  Jen, Denise and I made sure - in our daytime exploration of the city - that we found the area where coaches would pick up so that we wouldn't be panicking later in the evening.  We enjoyed looking round Maastrict and we were in our seats at the outside concert in good time.  It was quite an experience - hundreds and hundreds of people and Andre Rieu processing through the square, with his orchestra, playing his violin as he went.  The first half we were undisturbed and enjoyed the concert.  Diversion - In the interval, we talked to an elderly couple sitting next to us who we recognised from our coach.  The gentleman had pushed the lady in her wheelchair but he had been told to leave the same well away from the seating area.  The lady got up to go to the toilet (along with dozens of other people) and the man let her go, on her own...  I was following her along the seats and I thought, "this lady is never going to make it without a mishap".  So, I gave her my arm and - to cut a long story short - we spent the interval walking very slowly, negotiating the square and all its milling people, to get to the toilet block over the other side.  The concert started again as we got there and I finally got her to a loo. Amazingly, another lady there said she was a carer and she assisted my lady whilst I used the facilities myself.  The concert was proceeding and I faced the prospect of getting the lady all the way back again - nightmare!  But, suddenly (and my recollection is a bit hazy) there were amazingly helpful people who suddenly appeared, as well as the carer, a man went and got the lady's wheelchair, someone else helped me get her back to her seat. I didn't know what to do with the wheelchair but yet another person (a German man sitting near us I think) took it off - End of Diversion.  Towards the end of the concert (the second half had been a blur for me) the husband went to collect the wheelchair despite me saying that I would do it.  He and his wife disappeared and I thought, "Good, they will be back at the coach early." Silly thought - when everyone was in the coach, this couple were missing.  It was midnight in the middle of Maastrict and we were all stuck there.  To give the lady non-courier her due, she did leap into action at this point and start searching the area.  We got off and also hunted as did another passenger from the coach. Half an hour or so passed and then Jen suggested that they may have gone back to the drop-off point, which is what we had done on every other occasion and, as I said, this time the instructions were not that clear. The non-courier walked to the original drop-off point and found them.  Phew!  We arrived at the hotel very late but at least we had survived (sort of) everything.

The final 'disasters' were that we were on course to miss the ferry back across the Channel (because of the late night and the driver's legal rest hours) and had to get booked on another one.  There was then an accident on the A2 in Kent so the coach crawled along for mile after mile - and the coach couple wouldn't let anyone use the toilet (which had been a prohibition the whole trip).  Oh dear!  The ladies on the coach took drastic measures but I won't go into it here - we will tell you if you ask us!  

Of course, everybody complained to the company about all the things that could be attributed to the trip's organisation (or lack of it) and I wrote a long letter to Goldcrest setting out what had happened in as neutral way as I could.  The Company said we should have told them at the time.  We said that we couldn't possibly have complained because all the passengers were worried about the driver and partner going off and leaving us stranded. We, along with everyone else, were offered £15 off another holiday!  We had already said quite clearly that we were never, never, going to book with that company again.  We put it all down to experience and, as I have said, we had in fact enjoyed ourselves along the way and we had seen Brussels, Maastrict and other sights in Belgium and Holland. But, the next time we booked a coach holiday (a year later) we chose to go with Leger Holidays (Dutch bulbfields and Amsterdam)  and all went smoothly... 

This is a long email but I wanted to get all that off my chest!

Jacqui

               
 

10th August 2020

Dear Friends,

Our friends Alan & Rosemary (and recipients of this chat) dropped in to see us on Saturday on their way from Sheffield to a holiday boat moored in Norwich.  I had previously asked Rosemary if she could make me a cushion out of spare (and old) clerical shirt material and this large, beautiful, cushion arrived with them (see photo).  They also assisted by managing to get a new tap inside a water butt for us, we had failed miserably the day before (it involved one person crawling actually in to the water butt).  Other things that might be of interest from the weekend:

  • I managed to get round to making an origami paper crane as suggested by The Elders (www.theelders.org) to mark the 75th anniversary of the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I posted my photograph on our Circuit Facebook page and also re-activated my Twitter account and was pleased to see that the Elders organisation (I didn't know about this until recently) 'liked' both.

  • Jen and I dropped in on our colleague Betty (who is about to retire) at the end of an open morning on her driveway in Dereham to say goodbye to folks from her churches and to receive donations for bric a brac.  She made £200 for the charity 'Nelson's Journey' which is brilliant.  

  • For the first time in about 9 months, we enjoyed Sunday lunch at our favourite Sunday lunch place (a rare treat at the best of times).  This pub restaurant does 'gran and grandad' size roast meals which suits our appetites very well.  The first time we went there we worried about whether or not we qualified (!) but, of course, it is just a description of a smaller meal.  Although the plates are smaller, they still manage to fit in two types of potato and 5 other vegetables and the lunch is always delicious. For pudding I risked a treacle sponge. Now, I don't usually want to bore people with descriptions of meals I have had but the treacle sponge set me off on another trip down memory lane.  I think I had better get out of this bullet point...

My mum used to make a treacle sponge that looked like a round hill (Beeston Hump if you are in Norfolk) and had golden syrup running all over it.  The trick was to get served a piece with lots of syrup.  This second course was referred to in our family as 'Deadly Pud' - my father's name for it.  Naturally, I continued into adulthood thinking this was the name for this type of pudding.  It came as a real shock when I discovered that this was not the official name and that other people had never heard of it!  [I also grew up thinking that the official term of the third minister in a circuit ministry team was called 'The Dogsbody'... as this was how my dad referred to himself in his Guernsey appointment]. 

As always, Jacqui

 

6th August 2020

Dear Friends,

One more catch-up.  During my week off I booked in to both Pensthorpe and Felbrigg.  In a way I like the structure of having to book and be welcomed at the entrance etc etc.  It helps to make the visitor feel welcome.  I also like the one-way flows in places because you don't have to stand there and dither about where to go first!  I am sorry that they have taken away the one-way flow in Tescos - I liked it when we all proceeded round in an orderly fashion.   Now, everybody is going every which way and the social distancing, which people were being so careful about previously, seems to have gone out of the window.  Mind you, people still give plenty of room when you walk up the road (on a slight hill) from our estate to the town, and have to pass on a narrow pavement - it is funny how different cultures apply in different places. 

I also liked the train journey I made from Downham Market to Eastbourne when I went to collect the wounded soldier.  I travelled in the middle of the day and there were not many people on the mainline trains or on the underground (thank goodness).  As there was no room for me at Jen's sister's flat, I stayed in one of the seafront hotels for a couple of nights and it made a lovely little holiday. There was one day to enjoy the delights of Eastbourne - in the morning, Jen, Denise and I went for a dog walk around a park in a part of the town that I hadn't walked in before (Eastbourne is now a very large place and when I lived there from 2000 - 2005 walks were usually by the sea or on the downs).  In the afternoon, Jen and I had a lazy pootle on the front in the sunshine and enjoyed our first ice-creams of the Summer.  Unusually, there was a big wheel set up and the one of us that likes that sort of thing went up in it, paid for by the other one of us that finds heights difficult and would have been terrified... (guess which is which?)

Family-wise, my niece got married last Saturday after her wedding in a wedding venue was on, then off, then on, then - after the government said no wedding receptions the lunchtime before - on, with my sister and others having to cook the food themselves!  They seemed to have had a good time despite everything. Rachel, Charles and the two boys stayed in our caravan this last week and really enjoyed the beaches of North Norfolk.  Cromer pier, and the pier cafe's take-away fish and chips, were a particular attraction!  We met them at Felbrigg one day and then they called in for a BBQ at Cromwell Close this last Tuesday lunchtime.  The attached photo was obtained by setting the timer on the camera - a good way of getting everyone to behave and smile nicely! Naomi and her family have a Norfolk holiday with her parents-in-law soon so we will see them too. 

As always, Jacqui

We 'ate out to help out' at our local Chinese restaurant yesterday.  Good food, slow service (not used to it?), half price but with an extra 'covid' charge of £4!  Nice to do this for a change from my home cooking but mustn't do it too often....

4th August 2020

Dear Friends,

My younger sister tells me that the story I remember about the kittens came from an Annual of lots of stories that was - and still is! - in her possession.  She seems to have a storehouse of childhood items and, one day, I am going to ask to look at what's in it!  She has mentioned other stories in the Annual - including one about a girl who gets lost with 7 dogs and they are discovered when the tails of the dogs all appear in a line above some long grass - and the stories all sound very familiar.  As I am 6 years older than Monica, I guess that I read those stories to her and Jeremy when I was babysitting them of an evening.  In Sudbury, they shared a bedroom that had been separated with a partition down the middle and I remember, as a young teenager, standing at the end of the partition (so that I could see both beds and occupants) and giving them quizzes etc!

Back to the catch-up, we continue to be amazed by the number and variety of birds that come into our garden.  If we are lacking entertainment, we just need to look out of the kitchen window.  Yesterday, I counted 10 different species in the space of half an hour with a battle for the bird-bath involving blue-tits, starlings and blackbirds. 

Because Jen was away for 2 weeks (her broken wrist is gradually getting better - thanks to those who have enquired) and I spent my one week off partly in our caravan, partly at home, and partly collecting Jen from Sussex, our pattern of regular walks has been disrupted.  But, on Sunday, we did do what we now call 'The Pretty Lane' walk (well, it was pretty when there were celandines back in April) and that meant going across the Sheep Field, even though it became a ploughed field, and now it is an unidentified crop field. We will have to monitor the unidentified crops, fortunately the crop-planter has left the public footpath going across it. 

And, finally with catch-ups, Jen and I have both had hair cuts.  She fixed with a new hairdresser (our next-door-neighbour's daughter) only last week and now looks radically different with quite a short style.  I am the opposite because, when I got to my regular hairdresser 2 or 3 weeks ago, I sat in the chair and said "I have quite enjoyed my hair with the layers growing out, could you sort it out without putting all the layers back?"  She said that my hair didn't need too  much sorting out which pleased me, we discussed the difficulties of cutting one's own hair with the aid of a mirror. She also said that lots of customers were coming in and saying that they liked their hair longer and that they didn't want to go back to how they were before.  So, I was on trend and I was pleased again.  Another client came in and sat down in the second chair with the second hairdresser.  He asked the new lady what she wanted him to do and she said, "Well, I quite like it longer now...." so Nicky and I laughed...

Jacqui

3rd August 2020

Dear Friends,

As I mentioned before my break, there are a few topics that I have not yet covered and would still like to share with an audience - my trip to San Francisco, the story of the 1902 presentation keys, the April Fool's trick I played on my university friends on Valentine's Day, the nightmare coach holiday (which was actually quite fun) with which Jen, Denise and I celebrated our 60th birthdays. So, I am going to write a few more 'chatty' emails in August (without the quote and the prayer), they may not be every day because my working life has got a bit busier and more complicated since the easing of lockdown - although maybe it will be a bit quieter again in August.  The main 'difficult' thing at the moment is working with churches across our circuit (24 of them) to decide whether or not to re-open in September and, therefore, to go through a 'risk assessment and action plan' process, combined with which the circuit has to decide how and when to allocate preachers.  I also have a colleague retiring, and a new one to welcome, but all these work issues are not for a chatty email...

For today, I thought you might like a catch-up on the garden and associated matters.  The Labyrinth Dahlia (given to me when we left Wymondham) has been flowering merrily - see photo. 

The poppies and foxgloves have long finished but the middle bed is a riot of colour.  I said to Jen yesterday that my dad would be very pleased with her, his policy was to aim for not being able to see any earth in a flower bed and this central one in our current garden certainly fulfils that, the plants (both annual and perennial) are packed in.  The Thunbergia plant is creeping up the trellis provided for it outside the back door and the bright orange flowers are starting to come continuously (second photo). 

I don't think I told you that another name for Thunbergia is 'Black-eyed Susan' (although Rudbeckia also gets given this name).  One of those random childhood memories I have is of a picture book where a mother cat can't find her kittens when she wants to wash their ears.  The trouble is they are all different colours and patterns and they all go and hide in places where they are camouflaged by their surroundings. The one I remember best is the black and orange kitten who hides in the black-eyed susans...  A few years ago, I was telling my daughter Rachel about this book - I didn't know its name - and, that Christmas, my present from her was a battered copy of 'The kittens who hid from their mother' (published by Wonder Books of New York in 1950) that she had sourced from the internet. As I write, I have just looked at the book to take a photograph and I am reminded that the plant where the kitten hides is definitely a rudbeckia and not a thunbergia...  We have the former planted in the garden but they have yet to flower. 

Until tomorrow,

Jacqui

18th July 2020

Dear Friends,

At some point in 2017 I took on board that it was the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death in the July (which I kinda knew anyway) but Rachel sent me something that made me realise there would be lots of special events in Hampshire.  I ended up going down there 4 times, including the auction in September at which Jen and I bought our bookbench.  One of the nicest days in the whole of my life was the day in August when we did a tour of all 25 BookBenches in the Basingstoke area, taking photographs and admiring each one. At the time, it was possible to view all the uniquely painted bench artworks on the internet but it is not possible now.  However, I am going to create a photo album on my personal website (after my holiday) so, if you are interested, let me know and I will tell you when this appears. 

Jane Austen died on 18th July 1817 at the young age of 41, the first of George and Cassandra Austen's eight children to die.  It is still not known what caused her illness (which came and went over a 3 year period) and death although the likelihood is some sort of cancer.  On the 18th July 2017, Jen and I gave a presentation for my churches that I was serving at the time, Jen playing period music to complement my photographs and the story of Jane's life. N.B. Once I had moved away from Hampshire, I had filled in the one gap in my re-telling of Jane's story by having a holiday in Bath and recording the details of Jane' life and homes (4 of them) there.  On the 19th July 2017, I was on my own in Basingstoke, visiting the new sculpture of Jane in the market-place (see photo) and Jane's grave in Winchester Cathedral where a special ceremony had taken place the day before. I found it surprisingly emotional going to the grave - she was buried in the north aisle - not because of any 'fame' (which she didn't have at the time) but because of her family and contacts and the fact that she died in College Street very nearby.  There was a condolence book which I signed with a message and found myself in tears (berrating myself at the same time for crying when she had died 200 years previously and was a 'friend' to people all over the world). 

A year later, on 18th July 2018, Jen and I gave our presentation to a MWIB (Methodist Women in Britain) social event in Chapelfield Road, Norwich.  Last year, on the day of the anniversary, we were in the throes of moving (we will have been one year in Cromwell Close on the 22nd) and, this year, I am on my own at home writing about Jane Austen in my 102nd daily email!

Today's quote: 

"On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, what better way is there to honour this extraordinary author than to give thanks for what she has left us? For me, her work is a timeless guide to living life in the honesty zone, wrapped in an infinitely re-readable set of six novels." 

Article by Laurie Viera Rigler in July 2017

Today's prayer:

Loving God,
Thank you for things that give us pleasure,
things that provide meaning to life,
things that give us satisfaction,
people - past and present - who mean alot to us.
Thank you for sustaining us when these things are absent,
life is not so good,
and we can only depend on your love
and your constant, comforting presence.

JAH

Have a good week. Until we communicate again, Jacqui x

 

17th July 2020

Dear Friends,

I had lived and worked in the Basingstoke area for 6 months before I realised that one of my churches - Oakley - was only 5 minutes drive from the small village of Steventon where Jane Austen was born (in 1775), and spent the first 25 years of her life.  Once the realisation dawned, I endeavoured to make up for lost time.  I remembered the biography of Jane by Claire Tomalin that I had read many years before. I re-read it.  I delighted in visiting the field in Steventon which once housed George and Cassandra Austen's rectory.  The rectory is no longer there but the parish church certainly is, standing proudly at the top of a long lane that the Austen family must have walked up every Sunday. Steventon is now one of my favourite places, along with the village of Chawton (also in Hampshire) where Jane, her sister, mother, and their friend Martha, lived from 1809.   

Having re-visited Jane Austen's life and having re-acquainted myself with the fact that 4 of the 5 main places that she lived were in Hampshire (and having bethought myself that Hampshire was exactly where I was living) I set about photographing the significant homes, churches and other locations of her life.  This meant going to Steventon, Southampton, Alton, Chawton, Winchester (where she died and is buried) on different occasions (always seeking the good weather that brings such photos alive...).  In case you are worried, I did some work in between times... and eventually used my pictures for talks and presentations and worship that, hopefully, enhanced my ministry in the Basingstoke area. I developed a presentation I called 'Jane Austen in Hampshire' and was soon delivering it to WIs and other organisations as well as church groups. 

There is only one absolutely certain picture of Jane and that is a portrait of a young Jane drawn by a young Cassandra (her elder sister) which Cassandra herself said was not a very good likeness. It is now housed in the National Portrait Gallery.  A few years ago, Paula Byrne, an English Professor was given a portrait by her husband that he had bought at auction.  It carried the title 'Jane Austin' (wrong spelling of the Austen name) and Paula became convinced that this was a portrait of the author in her late 30's although the provenance was unknown. A fascinating documentary was shown on BBC2 on Boxing Day 2011 which investigated the drawing from every conceivable angle. It certainly convinced me of its authenticity and 2 out of the 3 experts that examined the evidence. 

Tomorrow is the 203rd anniversary of Jane Austen's death and I will tell you how I marked the 200th anniversary in 2017.

Today's quote: 

"It was as easy as breathing to go and have tea near the place where Jane Austen had so wittily scribbled..."    
Christopher Hitchens

Today's prayer:

Give us grace, almighty Father, so to pray as to deserve to be heard,
to address thee with our Hearts, as with our lips.
Thou art everywhere present, from Thee no secret can be hid.
May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee,
with Reverence and Devotion that we pray not in vain.

Jane Austen (Prayer One)

As always, Jacqui

 

15th July 2020

Dear Friends,

I mentioned Bar Hill and its Homegroups yesterday.  Now, its a bit strange because Bar Hill is the place that I have lived the longest - 19 years (1981 - 2000) and yet I have hardly mentioned it in these ramblings (ok - not ramblings, writings).  I guess that is because there hasn't been too much to say - I had my children (1984 and 86), I gave up my work for Legal Aid at the Law Society (1979 - 1984), I looked after them at home until they went to school, I then became part of the Staff of Bar Hill Church (5 denominational LEP) as a lay person and unpaid, I worked closely with the then minister James Newcome (now the Bishop of Carlisle) until he left in 1994, I steered the church through an 18 month interregnum (1994 - 95) a very stressful and character forming time), I gradually bowed out as the new minister, Gary, came in and as I candidated for the ministry and trained at Wesley House, Cambridge (1997 - 2000).  That's too many 'I's'!  My uncle would not be pleased.  But, if you are describing what you have done in your life, it is difficult to avoid the 1st person singular. 

The 'old' (The Octagon opened 1972) and the 'new' (completed 1991 & 1995) Churches at Bar Hill.

Now, not only have I not previously talked about Bar Hill (or Wesley House), but there are other things I want to mention that have not yet appeared.  When I started these emails, it was because I was trying to think of different ideas to help people in the lockdown, and to stay in touch with members of my current churches.  I thought - "Well, I can write some chatty, cheerful things and that might help one or two people along, you never know."  I never thought that I would end up with a readership of 70+ addresses, and potentially, over 100 readers. Nor did I think I would be on my 99th email nearly 4 months later!  The most surprising thing is that I seem to have written my autobiography, albeit in short, random unchronological pieces!  And, because of this last point, and because I could never write any actual memoirs in a sustained, sensible way, I feel as though I want to finish the autobiographical bit - at least, get down the remaining stories that I think are of interest.  However, I said that I would stop at no. 102 this Saturday.  Instead of that, I am going to have a break (I have a week's leave next week) but resume for a little while after that to tell the stories of the nightmare coach holiday, the lunch in San Francisco that I bought in an online auction for over £400 (it was a once in a lifetime lunch and it went to a good cause), the day I refused to believe that my daughter had won a bike in the Beano, the mayhem I caused when I played an April fool joke (only it was on Valentine's Day) on my friends at university, and how I managed to have a baby on exactly the same day as my friend who lived exactly opposite.  I can't even list the headlines of the stories in chronological order, but never mind.  Oh - and there is the story of the 1903 presentation keys that went from Norfolk to Australia and came back to Norfolk again 113 years later and the detective work I carried out to understand it all. And how Jen and I walked the famous labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. 

So, hope that's ok, of course you don't have to read them.  I am very grateful to the few people who respond frequently (1 person responds meaningfully every day) because it makes me feel it's worth it.  Although, as I have said, it has been worth it for my own satisfaction and, maybe (you never know), for my grandchildren and any great-grandchildren in later life to know the sort of forebear they have had.  

Today's quote: 

"Bar Hill is a purpose-built village with a population of 4,000 about 4 miles northwest of Cambridge on the A14 road.  Its name originated from the fact that it was built along an old Roman Road that had a Toll Bar/gate which was used in the local area as a farm's name 'Bar Farm'.  The farm house still remains next to the village school. The toll gate was also located roughly near this building. The village was built on or around one of the many hills in the area, hence the name 'Bar Hill'."    [The first residents moved in in 1967]
Wikipedia 

Leading to Bar Hill Nature Reserve

Today's prayer found in my sorting, cut out of a magazine:

God of surprises,
you burst in on our lives when we don't expect you,
you catch us unawares.
Bewilder us, amaze us, and flabbergast us,
and make us catch our breath with love.
Astonishing God,
may I never expect a surprise,
because then that would spoil it.
But please don't let me miss one.
Amen.

Peter Privett

As always, Jacqui

PS I forgot to tell you that our 'Encyclopaedia of Rainbows' book has come to an end which is sad.  The last page was 'ribbons'.

PPS I know that one or two of you were interested in my reference to 'Posada' yesterday.  For anyone who would like to know more about it, there is information on my personal website at this link  http://www.jacquisresources.co.uk/using-posada-as-outreach-in-advent.  The photo albums on the site carry the best of Mary & Joseph's travels over 5 years in a dedicated album. 

14th July 2020

Dear Friends,

It is all happening at the moment, our router has decided not to connect to the internet (broadband still coming in) and turning it off and on again (the usual trick) hasn't worked. Was despairing until I discovered I can pay for temporary BT Open Wifi access so I am doing that for the moment until I can get the problem fixed. I didn't tell you yesterday - but am mentioning it now - that Jen arrived at her sister's in Eastbourne on Sunday and promptly broke a bone in her wrist...  it is all strapped up and she has to keep it raised for 2 weeks... she says that she is in a lot of pain so let's hope that subsides in the near future.  She was going to be there for a week but now its going to have to be longer - she has a follow-up appointment at the Eastbourne hospital on Monday.  And - our Close is being re-surfaced today, there are strange looking yellow squares dotted around it at the moment. Apart from all those things, life is normally the new normal today. 

I told you yesterday about the book that I have inadvertently contributed to on the subject of Mary Ellen Piggott.  That leads me to a digression about my actual - and wishful thinking - publications over the years. I have started several books that have never got finished, finished one or two that I have never sent to anyone, finished and sent a few that nobody has wanted to publish. This would be depressing except that, along the way, I have had articles, housegroup material, letters to editors published with a fair amount of regularity and that has satisfied my desire to be in print.  The most unsatisfactory thing was in the 1990's when, as a lay person, I was running a (very organised) housegroup system for Bar Hill Church (200 members at that time, about 10 housegroups), providing training for the leaders and writing most of the study material. I distilled all of the knowledge and training into a housegroup leaders' manual - very user-friendly, one page to a subject, lots of bullet points. I sent it to Kevin Mayhew Ltd who said they would publish it if I could cut the length a bit.  Did I ever get round to shortening it and sending it to them again?  Well, as I said, that was the high point of unsatisfactoriness in my (non) writing career.  I suppose this is another regret to add to the one I have mentioned previously - that I stopped playing hockey when I was 18.  I loved (and I don't often underline in these emails) that Homegroup Manual...  I still have it somewhere... it is now, of course, very out of date - it was a product of its time. 

So, with this background, a very surprising thing happened 4 years ago.  I had an idea for a Grove booklet (Anglican series of shortish discussion starters for the contemporary church). Now, ideas that involve work, and risk, and seeing something through often go the way of Homegroup manuals that don't get shortened... the idea I had meant I had to contact someone I vaguely knew (Anglican Priest Susanna), it meant getting her on board, it meant liaising with her over writing, and it meant actually doing the writing - and finishing it!  Then, we would have to submit the finished result to Grove and hope they accepted it.  Amazingly, and astonishingly, I followed through on all these things and no. 114 in the Evangelism series titled 'Hosting Mary and Joseph - Posada: An Advent Experience for your Community' was published in 2016.  It even made a small profit in the first year. 

Today's quote: 

"Posada - Spanish for 'lodging place' involves taking the figures of Joseph, Mary and the unborn Jesus on an advent journey our of church and into the public realm. A South American tradition dating back more than four centuries, Posada can serve as a form of outreach into the community, a means of making new connections and strengthening existing ones, and a way to find stillness in December's busyness." 
From 'Hosting Mary and Joseph' by Jacqui Horton and Susanna Gunner

Today - 14th day of the month - is the day for the East Anglia District in the Prayer Diary. Having just looked at it I am reminded that the prayer on page 53 asks for prayer for the 'new superintendent ministers in the Fens, Central Norfolk and West Norfolk Circuits' and I am feeling I could do with a prayer or two today...  especially for the internet to work again.. the temporary one is very erratic which is why this is being sent late. 

God of holy love, you call your Church to be a community of reception and a community of response.
Grant us the humility to receive your gospel and so be shaped in the ways of Christ, 
and give us the faith to respond to your gospel 
so that we might be drawn into the life-giving ways of your Spirit in the world. Amen.
Julian Pursehouse, East Anglia District Chair (in the Prayer Handbook day 14)

As always, Jacqui

PS Hurray!  The router is working again.  I turned it off for a long time and now it is working again. Phew! 

PPS Now able to see that there is one new copy of the Posada Grove Booklet available on Amazon, much cheaper than Grove's price of £3.95.  

13th July 2020

Dear Friends,

Well, it was rather strange going to our caravan, and being in Cromer, and having a sort of 'normal' day off - for the first time in nearly 4 months... On Friday evening, we had fish & chips on the pier - Jen's idea of the perfect thing to do, she loves being by the sea - and on Saturday morning, we went putting.  We usually go to Cromer or Sheringham's small putting course quite a few times during the course of a Summer but we had actually forgotten about it until we saw that the Cromer one was open... we are very evenly matched, as was proved this time, a round of 48 each.  

I am returning, briefly, to the story of Rev Henry Piggott and his wife and their missionary activities in Italy in the nineteenth/early twentieth century.  Two further things came out of my research and photographs and the talk in Rome I told you about last week. Firstly, I was able to do a much longer presentation for the Wesley Historical Society and this took place in Lowestoft, the place of Henry's birth. Secondly, I got an email out of the blue from a lady who said she was co-authoring an academic book on 'Women pioneers in continental European Methodism 1869 - 1939' (!) and what did I know about Mary Ellen Piggott?  Well, I already had a soft spot for Mary E (Henry called her 'Pollie') and was very conscious that her life had not been at all easy. She hadn't wanted to go to Italy in the first place, she lost three of her first children whilst they were very young (eventually 8 out of 11 survived to adulthood), and she was obviously dedicated to supporting Henry's work, whilst having her own ministry, and whilst suffering frequent ill-health. Mary Ellen died in Italy in 1899, she was 59 years old. Incidentally, I didn't mention the other day that it was easy to know about Henry's life because his son, Theodore, edited his letters after his death, and 'The Life and Letters of Henry Piggott' is available in full on the internet. However, Henry's Pollie gets very little mention although a certain amount can be gleaned from passing references. I was very pleased for Mary Ellen to have a voice 118 years after her death and I sent Ulrike some notes with as much information as I had. I was very surprised to learn later that the notes had been (with a little editing) used as they were in a chapter of the book!  

Today's quote: 

"You should have gone to Cromer, my dear, if you went anywhere - Perry (the doctor) - was a week at Cromer once, and he holds it to be the best of all the sea-bathing places."    

Jane Austen in 'Emma'

Today's prayer :

Preferring nothing to you, O Christ,
let us hold fast to your love,
embrace your Cross and honour your name.
Let conviction mark our speech,
courage our life and patience our faith;
for your own name's sake.  Amen.
Cyprian of Carthage (200 - 258) 

As always, Jacqui

PS The Labyrinth Dahlia is out!

PPS Jen and I led our circuit telephone service yesterday and took the theme of 'the spirituality of gardens'. The service can be heard on youtube https://youtu.be/RJMhs32_FUw, it includes a couple of video clips including Jen playing 'An English Country Garden'.  The latter is 6 minutes into the recording, I am videoed saying a gardener's prayer just before that. 

 

I am sorry I have got behind with reproducing my emails here... it has been a very busy week with meetings about possible church re-openings, organising staff farewells & welcomes, dealing with Worship material, etc etc. Here is the one for Saturday and I will catch readers up with the missing emails next week:

11th July 2020

Dear Friends,

Just a quick email because we have come to our caravan for the first time in 4 months. When we are home this evening we will be removing all the very sodden dead heads from petunias and other plants, but it has been very good to have all the rain recently.  Not so good for the spirits though!  So, good if there is sunshine today.

Being in the caravan means a break from the sorting at home but Jen is away this coming week (to visit her sisters in Eastbourne) so I shall probably get more done then. We were reminded this week of all the clothes and object sorting that we did early in the lockdown - we found out that the Big C Charity Shop in Swaffham is opening on Wednesday mornings just for collections. They are taking everything to their big centre in Wymondham. So, we (I mean, Jen) took loads of our stuff to the local shop and they seemed very grateful.  I recently had a letter from the Big C Charity detailing how much they had made from our donations in the last year and, therefore, how much from gift aid. It is incredible that the odd bits and bobs of donations over a year make so much money - over £400 the letter said. It is like what I used to think about Jumble Sales (when churches had them) - it was amazing that all that jumble being sold for very small amounts seemed to add up to a sizeable sum...  We try to support the Big C as our Charity Shop of choice because there isn't a local Oxfam Shop and because we both really benefited from the Big C Centre at the Norfolk & Norwich when Jen had her extensive breast cancer treatment back in 2010.  We had the support of the lovely people who work there as well as the offer of counselling, massage and relaxation sessions for partners/carers as well as the person who has cancer. I took up the offer of all of these and it was a great help. 

Today's quote: 

"When cancer threatens someone you love: Big C's scientists, nurses, and the hospitals we equip, will give them a fighting chance at life and hope for a future with you. Big C is dedicated to fighting to help local folk affected by cancer in Norfolk and Waveney."

Big C website

Today's prayer :

Loving God,
We pray for all those affected by cancer
or by other serious disease and illness.
We pray for your healing and protective presence
not only for the patients themselves
but also for those who love and care for them.
Amen.

Have a good weekend, Jacqui

Friday 10th July

Dear Friends,

Actually, I really enjoyed doing the research on Henry Piggott - a lovely day exploring Lowestoft Methodism (including the record office) with Thelma; a trip with Jen to a small village called Dagnall in Buckinghamshire (where Henry's mother grew up) and the nearby Whipsnade Zoo ( ! Catherine Piggott's family owned the farm which was later sold to become the zoo...); a trip on my own to Finedon in Northamptonshire (home to Mary Ellen who was to marry Henry, and also nowadays to Rev Richard Coles who is the vicar there*); and also investigating Henry's links with Kingswood School, Wesley's Chapel, and the Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford. In Dagnall, we spotted a Methodist Church with a Saturday Coffee Morning and ended up talking to the Minister and meeting two ladies in their 90's whom - I worked out - were cousins of Henry Piggott 3 times removed!

When I eventually travelled to Rome for a 2 day stay, I felt very nervous. I was travelling on an aeroplane on my own for the first time, I was worried that the indigenous population probably spoke Italian rather than English, I was worried that there would be no-one to meet me at the airport, I was worried about how I would meet up with Tim and Angela and, of course, I was worried about the flight itself. Regarding the latter, I discovered a trick that I used again when I went to America (in 2019).  I upgraded to 'Club Class' - not too much more money, but more attention on the plane, comfier seats and more room. I found that, because I enjoyed the 'posher' experience, it helped me worry less about being suspended thousands of miles in the air. The worries were, of course, needless: a taxi driver friend of the MacQuibans met me quite easily as I arrived in arrivals, many Italians do speak English, and I was dropped by the driver right on the doorstep of the Church and Manse at Ponte Sant'Angelo ('Bridge of Angels'), and there was Tim to meet me.  

My two days in Rome were spent thus: the first day Tim took me round the city. It rained all day - apparently Rome gets around 18 days like that a year and this was one of them. Nevertheless, it was amazing to visit the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trajan's Column, the Forum and other Roman ruins. I had been asked what I would like to see - rather than the Sistine Chapel, I had said 'biblical sites' so we went to where Peter was imprisoned and where Paul was under house arrest. The second day was the Henry Piggott Day (the sun shone all day) and we started by the plaque in the foyer at the Church where a small ceremony was held. Then we went to the Protestant Cemetery and I gave my talk in the Chapel there (Director of the Cemetery and the English Ambassador to the Vatican were present amongst others). Tim also gave a talk as well as the President of the Italian Methodist Church who was a fairly young lady and who talked for rather a long time. Then we went to Henry and Mary Ellen's graveside where there was a Bible reading and a prayer and a laying of flowers. Then a lunch for  invited people followed by Tim taking me to a huge Church - St Peter & St Paul Basilica - which was a very spiritual and lovely visit.  There were hardly any visitors there (it was an end of November Thursday morning) and being in the enormous space (no chairs out) was just breathtaking. That evening - I accompanied Tim and Angela to an Ambassador's reception just outside the Vatican.  I hadn't wanted to go but they said to me, "you will never the opportunity of an experience like this again" and so I went. It was an odd social occasion, everyone standing, socially networking, eating the finger food that was passed round. I think I counted 7 ambassadors (to the vatican) that I shook hands with!  One I did not talk to, but Tim tried to, was the American ambassador, one Callista Gingrich (wife of Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the American House of Representatives). She had only recently been appointed, they came in late and there were immediately people clustering round them.  I don't think my host made it...

 

Today's quote: 

"Rome's Non-Catholic Cemetery contains possibly the highest density of famous and important graves anywhere in the world. It is the final resting place of the poets Shelley and Keats, of many painters, sculptors and authors a number of scholars, several diplomats, Goethe's only Son... to name only a few.... It is one of the oldest burial grounds in continuous use in Europe, having started to be used in 1716... it is hard to think of another urban site quite so glorious..."

www.cemeteryrome.it 

Instead of a prayer :

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Christians to discover the face of Jesus in the migrants, refugees and the displaced who are forced to flee because of the many injustices that still afflict our world. Celebrating a Mass... to commemorate the 7th anniversary of his visit to the migrants in the Italian island of Lampedusa, the Pope recalled the words of Jesus, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." He said that this warning, for better or for worse, is a burning issue today.
Vatican News

As always, Jacqui

* We had encountered Richard Coles a few years ago when his partner David was our neighbour in Wymondham (and curate at Wymondham Abbey). We heard recently that David - who had moved to live with Richard - had died of a sudden illness which we were very sad about.

Thursday July 9th

Dear Friends,

In between 2013 and 2017, I had no foreign trips and didn't expect any thereafter.  So, my next foray into international travel came as a surprise.  First of all you need some background information:

In the nineteenth century, a Wesleyan Methodist Minister named Henry Piggott was sent, with his wife, to Italy as a missionary.  Henry and Mary Ellen spent the rest of their lives there working hard for the people, and for the Methodist Church.  Methodism spread throughout the country as a result with the consequence that Henry achieved a certain standing as the man who established Methodism (and Protestantism) in Italy.  Henry died in December 1917 and he was buried, with his wife, in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.  One hundred years on, the Methodist Minister stationed in Rome - one Rev Tim MacQuiban - planned various centennial events.  As Henry had been born in Lowestoft (his father was a minister and moved when Henry was 2 years old so the hero of this story was not in Suffolk for long), Tim contacted the Chair of the East Anglia District and asked whether there was someone in the District who could do some research on Henry's life in England before he went to Italy. And - could that person go to Rome in December for the anniversary and give a talk on the same?  

Julian sent the request onto me.  I guess because I was (and still am) the Vice-President of the Wesley Historical Society: East Anglian branch (Julian is the President). Diversion - my dad was the Vice-President of this society in his retirement and, when I moved into the District in 2010, I was glad to support my parents in supporting the meetings.  In any case, I am very interested in local history and history generally. After my father's death, Rev Elizabeth Bellamy was the VP but, then, she moved to Alderney (expected back later this year). I was persuaded - on the basis that there was nobody else - that I should take on the role.  I did - end of diversion. Be all that as it may, I now had to decide - was this something I could do (I had previously done research and talks on an architect and Primitive Methodist Local Preacher, Augustus Scott, but that's another story for another day) or should I think who else might do this. Now, after Augustus, I had promised myself and Jen that I would never put so much work into research for a talk again (!) BUT, there were a few months in hand on this occasion, and.. there was a facilitated trip to Rome at the end of it. I decided - 'I think I should do this!' And my email time has almost gone so this account will have to run into tomorrow...

This is a photo of the 'preaching house' in Lowestoft where Henry was born, and then one of Henry and Mary Ellen in middle age. Finally, one of the Pont d'Angelo Methodist Church and Manse in Rome:

Today's quote: 

"The Church to which I belong is saying to me "Will you go?" ... Here is a work of special importance and honour to be done... the call is pressing...  And now to doubts and difficulties. Of course the paramount question is: "Does God call me?" ... With me everything hinges on this.  And how is the question to be determined? I know of but one way, and that is this. After committing the matter to God in prayer; after placing myself wholly in his hands... I must sit down, weigh pros and cons, and decide: consider the decision one to which he has helped me to come. This, therefore, I am now endeavouring to do."

Henry Piggott in a letter to his parents

Today's prayer I found in some of my Uncle's papers that I was sorting the other day.  It looks like it has come from a magazine :

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it...
or grow in its light 
and be of service to others.
But what I do with this day is important
because I have exchanged a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes,
today will be gone forever.
I hope I will not regret
the price I paid for it. 

Jacqui

PS The toad has become two toads and the blackbird has been digging in the alpine trough again - first time since March.

 

 

4th July 2020

 
Dear Friends,
 
Will return to Jeremy Vine and Basingstoke on Monday I think (after that long story yesterday).  News today on our latest walk, and on the garden instead.
 
We explored another part of the Peddar's Way this week.  From South Pickenham to North Pickenham. Some of it was on roads but mainly by the side of fields (wild flower meadows, barley fields with poppies, a turnip? field, horses). The profusion of wild flowers was amazing - another set to discover for July. Also, butterflies, there was a lovely brown one with little circles still to be identified. 
 
 
Jen has a new toy - a thing you push along in the garden and it distributes lawn feed & weed (if that's what you have put in it, of course!)  In Wymondham, we had paid £19 every 3 months or so and a nice man from 'Green Thumb' came and did the same thing.  It was well worth it there and it kept the lawn in very good condition. But, we have decided that, in Cromwell Close, we will make do with Jen and the new toy - see photo. I can't resist also sharing a photo of the south part of the garden (I have just worked out the directions) because the colour palette (?) is so lovely.
 
 
 
The thunbergia is growing apace, and starting to produce its orange flowers, the labyrinth dahlia has two lovely hopeful looking buds, the bank at the back (with the acers) has been re-arranged again. Courgettes, beans and tomatoes are all progressing in their pots, no sign of the toad. Oh - and I have a new focus of interest myself. Monty Don showed us a video clip last week of a 90 year old lady doing interesting gardening including planting little alpines in the holes of a brick. We have bricks - one of them has holes, I extracted babies from 3 of my sempervivums (I think one of them is actually a sedum, I am always getting muddled) and did mini-gardening (which I much prefer to standard gardening). 
 
 
Today's quote: 
"A beautiful lawn doesn't happen by itself"
Quotemaster

Today's prayer:

Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colours,
he made their tiny wings...

Have a good weekend,
Jacqui

3rd July 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
Many thanks for the responses about Disney, the French, getting older, and haircuts!
 
I am going to divert (of course!) from my chronological account of trips abroad because yesterday's story has reminded me of another story that I have not yet told you, and another important place that I have not yet mentioned. The place is Basingstoke where I spent 3 memorable years as a minister 2007 - 2010.  The story about the angels in human form yesterday reminded me that I myself was an angel in 2009.  I know this  because it said so in the Times newspaper - yes, really!  And, because of it, I was also invited onto the Jeremy Vine show to be interviewed by that radio 2 personage.  How it came about was as follows:
 
It was Monday December 21st and I had been working at home in the Manse in Vivian Road, Basingstoke.  I wanted a break and thought that I would go to Tesco to get some toilet rolls (!) The weather didn't look great and I thought it as well to undertake the 10 minute drive to Chineham before it turned nasty.  As I set out it was starting to snow and I skidded a bit at the end of the road. I carried on, however, and reached the superstore.  Whilst inside, taking my time, I heard two members of staff talking - they were saying that they were worried about getting home in the snow. That made me worried and I quickly got to the checkout and back in the car.  The snow was falling thickly now and cars were driving slower and slower. Going up the one or two hills, cars were skidding and it became a very hairy drive indeed.  Eventually, nearly home, on Faraday road (hill) cars came to a standstill. I succumbed to the inevitable, left my car as best I could at the side of the road and started walking back to Vivian Road. This meant crossing the large roundabout on the ring road near the Manse and that meant that I saw that cars were at gridlock - all around the roundabout and the connecting roads.  I thought, "Those poor people, they are going to be stuck for a long time". The afternoon was getting on by now and I got home and it somehow didn't feel right just getting on with my usual day.  So, I got my walking boots on, wrapped up warm, went back to the roundabout, and started asking car drivers whether they were alright.  Most said 'yes' but I came to a young lady on her own who said that she wasn't. She needed the loo, she needed a drink, and she felt sick. I told her that if she could manoeuvre her car to the nearby slip road (cars were moving very very slowly), my house was not far away. She managed to do it and I was soon providing appropriate hospitality. It was getting dark now and I offered to my unexpected guest for her to stay the night, which she accepted gratefully.  In between times, I was liaising on the telephone because the council were setting up emergency centres for people to stay the night and they wanted to use our Oakridge Church (the Manse was in the Oakridge car park). I got the Church open but it transpired that nobody needed to use it. However, later, I went back to the roundabout - which was still in gridlock - and started approaching car drivers again. Another young lady engaged me in conversation.  She was trying to get to Tesco, I said it was going to take her a very long time if it was possible at all. It transpired that she was actually travelling much further but thought that, if she got to Tesco, she could get something to eat and recover. In short, she ended up staying the night with me as well. 
 
The following morning, both girls were up early, both refused breakfast, and both were gone before I knew it.  A little while later, there was a ring at the doorbell and another young lady was standing there saying that she was a reporter from the Sun newspaper - "Had we had people staying in our Church?"  I said "No, but I had had two people in my house but they had gone." Just at that very moment, one of them (the first one) came back.  She had left her laptop in the house!  The reporter asked her if she could interview her and she eventually agreed. They both came in and I provided drinks whilst the one interviewed the other. Photos were taken including me and my visitor together. Then they were both gone. [The reporter was dressed most unsuitably - wearing high heels in the thick snow. I offered her some old wellies which she accepted gratefully.]  
 
I reflected later as to whether I wanted my name (and/or photo) to appear in the Sun and was undecided.  Next morning I went out early and bought a copy and looked through.  No mention of Oakridge in the stuff about Basingtoke, no mention of me.  Phew!  I went home and the phone rang.  "Hello, I am a researcher for the Jeremy Vine show and we have seen the article in the Times.  Would you be available for an interview on today's programme?"  I agreed to this and then back out again, this time for the Times.  I wish I had the article!  It is probably somewhere in a remaining unexplored box from 11 years ago. However, it had the young lady no.1 telling the story of her adventure and saying that a Guardian Angel came out of nowhere and rescued her!  I will tell you tomorrow about the Jeremy Vine interview (not that there is too much to tell) because this email is already too long, I am going to see if I can find the Times online for December 2009, and Oh - I need to do some proper work! 
 
 
Today's quote: 
"Scenes in Basingstoke last night were described as 'like a disaster film' today, as the transport minister said he would be asking questions about events that led to up to 2,000 motorists being trapped in icy conditions. Drivers abandoned hundreds of cars in the Hampshire town and sought shelter in emergency rest centres overnight, amid claims that not enough grit was laid on the roads. Abandoned cars still line the streets as heavy snow on outlying roads prevents drivers collecting their vehicles." 

The Guardian online December 22nd 2009

Today's prayer :                                                              

Dear Lord, thank you that on cold winter's nights
I can go to bed, tucked up warm,
knowing that you love me.

Amen.
365 Children's Prayers

As always, Jacqui
 
PS no photos from that auspicious time but ones in the sunshine of Oakridge Manse and Church and one in the snow of a south Norfolk field.
 
2nd July 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
In 2008 - to celebrate our 50th birthdays, Jen and I went to Disneyland in Paris for a couple of days.  I booked it initially as a surprise and was pleased with myself for working out Eurostar, hotel and theme park tickets. As I mentioned before, I wasn't very well travelled at this point and just assumed that, if we could get ourselves off on the right metro stop, we would be able to walk to the hotel or, find a taxi.  All went well until we emerged out of the metro station.  It was January (Jen's birthday is in this Winter month - mine 3 weeks later in February), it was getting on in the afternoon and the sky was clouding over. No taxis.  No sign of a taxi rank. No idea of where our hotel was. We had the address written on a piece of paper and we started walking, and asking people if they spoke English. Nobody did. [I think I have already told you that languages were not my thing. I gave up German before O level and got a middling sort of grade in French.]  It was now getting dark as well as beginning to rain. We weren't exactly scared but we were anxious and not very happy. I am not sure whether we prayed or not, surely we did!  
 
Prayer or no, an angel appeared.  In the form of a black, French man holding a little boy by the hand.  He came out of the blue and approached us, asking a question in French. I just caught the last word 'perdu' - perdu!  My middling 'O' level French 34 years previously had taught me what that meant. The nice kind gentleman was asking whether we were lost?  We nodded vigorously, yes, we were definitely perdu. We showed him the piece of paper with the address. He took it and walked down the road to where another man was standing and he showed him the paper.  The other man seemed to be something to do with buses and he suddenly sprang into action and ran a little way and flagged down a bus.  We gathered that we should get onto this bus and the second man told the bus driver where we wanted to go. Not long afterwards, we were being dropped off and there was the hotel - thank goodness for that!  But, how could we thank our two angels - now disappeared from our lives except to be lodged in our memories forever more and brought back to life whenever we tell the tale...
 
After that, Disneyland was a cinch and good fun. And a good way to help us get over the milestone of being 50 (although, now I am over 60, I don't know what the 50 fuss was about!)
 
 
Today's quote: 
"It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly"
Basil Gildersleeve

Today's prayer :

Dear God,
Thank you for angels - human and divine.
Help us not to miss them 
and not to appreciate them,
but to praise you, as always,
for your loving kindness
and for every blessing.

Amen.
 
Jacqui
 
PS I have a haircut booked!  They rang me up...  not for another 3 weeks...
 
1st July 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
Well, for the first time in 101 days (thank you Lynn!) I have not managed an email this morning.  Too much happening with the launch of our new circuit website (www.centralnorfolkmethodistcircuit.org.uk), a virtual 'Open Gardens' within that website (click on 'Photos' tab), Superintendents discussing policies around churches re-opening, and a 'familiarisation' zoom session about the new Methodist worship and preaching course...
 
So, our 2008 trip to Disneyland will have to wait until tomorrow!  
 
A Bible verse instead of a prayer:

'Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take'
Proverbs 3 v 6

Jacqui

30th June 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
My first trip in an aeroplane since I was a child (and then just between Guernsey and the mainland - the whole family was sick) was in 2007 when Jen and I flew to Cologne at the invitation of an Iona Community member in Germany (the Iona Community is dispersed throughout the world). I was terrified on the flight and gripped my seat the whole way. However, we did arrive in Cologne and were put up for a few days by a very nice older couple who thought they were having two young men to stay, but got us. 
 
The reason we were under the auspices of the Iona Community was that the biennial German Kirchentag (meaning 'Church Congress') was taking place that year in Cologne and the Community had one of the fringe venues and was putting on meetings and events. When on Iona in 2006 I had developed a 'virtual Pilgrimage' which enabled visitors to experience the weekly pilgrimage around the island from the comfort of a chair. The word 'lockdown' had, of course, not been heard of then ! but my presentation of a series of projected photographs combined with the stops along the way for some information, a prayer and a song enabled pilgrims to the island (who were unable to do the actual walking) to feel as though they had had the experience. I was invited to lead the virtual Pilgrimage in the fringe venue at the Kirchentag and this I duly did.  My memory is a little hazy but I remember some considerable stress over the provision of a projector and my laptop's ability to relate to it (a stress repeated more than once in my subsequent life!). Here are photos of the real Pilgrimage (led by Lottie on this occaision) and the real Kirchentag in 2007:
 
 
Once the virtual Pilgrimage presentation was over Jen and I had free time in Cologne and were also taken out by our hosts. We visited the Cathedral, went on the Rhine, and must have gone up a very tall building judging by the photos I took of the river and the Cathedral - see attached. We also went round the main exhibition space of the Kirchentag - and bought an olive wood nativity set from the Holy Land, this was our first joint nativity set that has resulted in our collection of over 100 sets (we display them in December when we can).  
 
 
Today's quote: 

"I feel about aeroplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me that they are wonderful things for other people to go on"
Jean Kerr

Today's prayer is used on the Iona pilgrimage:

Bless to us, O God,
the earth beneath our feet.
Bless to us, O God,
the path whereon we go.
Bless to us, O God,
the people whom we meet.

Blessings for today's journey,
Jacqui

29th June2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
I wasn't going to mention visitors to the garden again quite so soon but I am going to have to because a. I gave you misleading information and b. we were startled by some starlings! I knew when I said the chappie (or chappess?) in the greenhouse was a frog it would turn out to be a toad and, so I am told (by Grant), it is!  That would explain its size but I am not sure it makes me feel any better about it...  Actually, it reminds me of a story that is relevant to what I was going to tell you about today, so will pick toads up again at the end - if you see what I mean!  But the starlings...  this morning around 20 young ones + an adult descended on our garden and took it in turns to enjoy the birdbath and the pickings in the flowerbeds. 
Quite a frantic flurry and a sight...
 
 
I have 17 days of chat left and there is some 'stuff' and some good stories that I have yet to share.  Some of these come from trips abroad since 2006, so I am going to take the next week or so to go through these. I need to tell you first though that, until 2007, I had not been out of the British Isles since I was a teenager.  Well, I did cross the channel to France in 1978 on the organised student trip to Paris and Taize that I mentioned recently. It was more scary what I did when I was 14 because I had an exchange with my German penfriend. This was a private thing, not a school thing, so I was on my own. However, Gabi came to stay with us in Suffolk first and then I went back with her on the ferry to Hamburg for a fortnight. This wasn't as good as it could have been partly because, having talked to Gabi in English for 2 weeks, I carried on doing so in Germany (languages have never been my thing) so my German didn't improve much and, partly, because Gabi and I didn't get on so well in real life as we had on paper. Nevertheless, it was all quite an experience and must have helped me grow up a bit. Diversion - I also had a French penfriend, Pierrette, who visited me for a day when she came with her family to England, and a penfriend in Zimbabwe (through my uncle) who was older than myself and who got married during the process of us writing to each other. I still have the letters from all 3 penfriends and am debating with myself whether or not they should be returned to the 'letters' box or whether they should become acquainted with the recycling bin - end of Diversion.  
 
So, the 7 or so foreign trips I am going to tell you about this week have all been in the last 13 years, since I was 49 and since the break-up of my marriage. But, for today, to return to toads and exchanges between students - yes, there is a connection and this is it: Rachel had an organised German exchange through the school and we had a very nice young lady, Suzie, to stay with us. Then a year or so later, there was an appeal - received through the School (Swavesey Village College) for a family to host an individual student who wanted to come to England. We responded, with the result that Alex came into our lives for a period of time. Also very nice but much livelier and more confident than Suzie... Anyway, we took her to Bury St Edmunds Cathedral on one occasion and had lunch in the Refectory. On the menu was 'Toad in the hole'. Having always accepted this as the name for the dish, I borrowed Alex's dictionary and translated it for her.  She was absolutely horrified and could not be persuaded to have the sausage meal! 
 
 
Today's quote: 

"The dish with leftover meat was originally not called Toad in the hole.... The origin of the name is unclear, but it may refer to the way toads wait for their prey in their burrows, making their heads visible in the earth, just like the sausages peep through the batter. It may also derive from the 'Antediluvian toad', a phenomenon of live frogs or toads being found encased in stone, which was a scientific fad of the late 18th century."  
Wikipedia

 
Today's prayer is from the Prayer Wall on the website of St Edmundsbury Cathedral:

Please pray for everyone who needs hope right now.
May we feel that hope together.

As always, Jacqui

PS Jen and I went to Pensthorpe on our day off on Saturday - 1st leisure outing for 3 months. We had booked for one of the members' slots, it is open generally from this week. It felt really weird and it took some time to settle into the visit. We said hello to the water fowl, visited the red squirrels, got in the way of a protective goose or two, admired the Millennium Garden, and had a lovely walk around the reserve. 

 
27th June 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
We have had two unusual visitors to our garden this week - and one lovely new plant.  Well, actually, several lovely new plants but only one I want to tell you about. 
 
The first unusual visitor was a (quite large) frog in the small greenhouse.  Fortunately, the greenhouse is Jen's territory and my role - when she wanted to move the tomato plants to give them more height - was to take a couple of photographs.  However, I am not allowed to show you the protagonist in her gardening clothes so one of the amphibian will have to do.
The second unusual visitor was a (quite large) moth that was suspended from a geranium one evening and giving every appearance of being a leaf with curled up edges.  In fact, I thought it was a leaf and poked it to get it out of the way of the flower. It didn't move and that was when I noticed the body and the legs gripping on to the plant. We looked it up and have deduced that it was a hawk moth which species, it seems, is quite common. If there are any knowledgeable moth people out there, please do add to our small knowledge on this subject... What I think is extremely clever of the moth (who would have thought it of them?) is that its camouflage was not just of any sort of leaf, but the sort of leaf that was actually on the ground nearby!
The lovely new plant is a Thunbergia.  We had this quick growing climbing annual outside our kitchen window every year in Wymondham and it is a real pleasure to have one in a pot (with stakes) outside the kitchen door in Swaffham. I want to tell you a tale from the first time we grew it but, unfortunately, it puts Jen at a disadvantage again so it may get censored... The Thunbergia grew and grew, it's lovely orange flowers spreading across the fence and making me smile every morning when I looked out. The plant continued to flower well into September until a day came... when I looked out... and there were no flowers but only a shrivelled plant...  I have to say I cried.  I investigated to see what creature of the garden had decimated my favourite plant in this way. I found the base and discovered... a cut... the Thunbergia had, from its root system, been untimely ripped. The culprit, when confronted with the crime, offered in mitigation that it was a complete accident and that she had merely been weeding and cutting back other plant material. Ever since then, we have grown thunbergia every year (carefully) and, after our trip to Fakenham Garden Centre last week, we are now growing it here.  I will keep you posted!
 
This photo is from 41 Back Lane
 
Today's quote: 
"Thunbergia, also known as black-eyed Susan vine or clock vine, is a quick growing vine boasting many open faced flowers, usually with dark centres (hence the name 'black-eyed Susan')"

Today's prayer = a Sunday School song (that demands improvisation):

Thank you, Lord, for this fine day
Thank you, Lord, for this fine day
Thank you, Lord, for this fine day
Right where we are.

Alleluia, praise the Lord!
Alleluia, praise the Lord!
Alleluia, praise the Lord!
Right where we are.

Thank you, Lord, for frogs and toads
Thank you, Lord, for frogs and toads
Thank you, Lord, for frogs and toads
Right where we are.

Alleluia...

Jacqui

26th June 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
I have found a photo of the ARC group in Canterbury - 1977 - I think. 
 
Also, a very nice photo of my mum and dad which I will randomly share with you. The third photo today is of me as a teenager on a beach.  When I found this picture a few days ago, I fastened on the blue and white jacket and was immediately transported back to my sense of self-image when I was wearing it.  I loved that jacket!  And the weird thing is that - 45 odd years later - I can still feel the extremely positive, and unique, feelings of wearing it!  How can that be?  
Something else happened when I looked at that photograph.  I started thinking that this must have been taken (with my own camera) on one of the Church Youth Club weekends away that we had in Hunstanton or Sheringham.  Diversion - when I was around 11, a group of us at St John's, Sudbury rebelled and stayed in Church rather than going out to Sunday School. My dad was instrumental in getting a YPF (Young People's Fellowship) set up for us. We went out in the sermon for YPF on Sunday mornings. Then developed an evening version which Liz Jolly (then a teacher, now a Supernumary in the circuit I am currently serving, and a recipient of this email - Hello Liz!) led. We went round the homes of different members of the congregation on Sunday evenings after Church (which we attended in the evening now rather than the morning). Then there was a Thursday evening Youth Club in the Church Hall led by Ethel Hill and her husband (trying to bring his name to mind but just can't!). It was this latter group that had weekends in youth hostels - end of Diversion. As I moved on from the jacket to the beach and the youth group, I suddenly had a vivid memory of being in a cafe with the group, and a waiter spilling a cup of coffee over me. I was wearing something light-coloured and the overall effect on my clothing was not good...  the waiter apologised but I had to stay like that until I was reunited with other clothes. I didn't know I had that memory until the immediacy of reliving it, just because of one photograph... 
Memory is a funny thing, I just couldn't bring to mind yesterday evening the name of the spinster who Emma makes fun of in Jane Austen's novel of that name. And we watched 'Emma' recently. The third of Alan Bennett's 'Talking Heads' sparked off a train of thought and I couldn't settle to Harriet Walter performing 'Soldiering on' until I had got the name sorted. Looked it up on the internet.  Miss Bates!  Of course!
 
I have actually lost my memory (for 2 or 3 hours) - yes really... - on two signficant occasions when I was under extreme stress - in 2009 and 2015 (it hasn't happened since).  It is an actual 'thing' called 'Transient Global Amnesia' and I am not going to say anything else about it except that it also once happened to my dad when he was under stress. Oh - I will say one thing - the second time was after I gave a speech at the Methodist Council which means that I know that I did it (and I was told it had a beginning, a middle and an end - so that was a relief!) but I only have the vaguest of recollections of standing at the podium and no memory of what happened immediately afterwards.
 
Today's quote: 
"Transient global amnesia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss ... during an episode, your recall of recent events simply vanishes, so you can't remember where you are or how you got there. In addition, you may not remember anything about what's happening in the here and now. Consequently, you may keep repeating the same questions because you don't remember the answers..."    Internet Information  
 
Today's Prayer is by Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb you;
let nothing dismay you;
all things pass:
God never changes.
Patience attains
all it strives for.
He (sic) who has God
finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
 
As always, Jacqui

PS I sincerely hope that I never have TGA again. However, if I were ever to become disorientated and keep asking the same question over and over, I don't need taking to hospital - the condition passess and one is back to normal albeit with the short memory loss - it never comes back for that short period in which it was lost. 

 

25th June 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
One of the most exciting things I took part in whilst I was at university in Canterbury was an ecumenical, and international, student project based in the Cathedral. Christian students were invited to take part, from different countries, and we lived together for 6 weeks in a house owned by the University Chaplaincy in Victoria Road in the City. We spent the daytimes in, and around, the Cathedral with daily worship in the crypt and, the rest of the time, offering informal guided tours - in our own language - to individuals, couples, families, groups, whoever happened to want this more informal approach (rather than the formal tours of the Cathedral guides). We ran into trouble at first because some official guides hadn't been told about us and they challenged us on our way round - I think this only happened to me once.  I really enjoyed getting to know the Cathedral and the then Staff (including the Dean and more than one canon) who gave us special tours and information sessions (including being taken high up into the clerestory and - I think - up the tower). 
 
I loved the Cathedral (and still do) - especially the small water tower in the grounds, the underside of Bell Harry Tower (there is a treadmill above it - like a hamster wheel - from when it was built), the stone mason marks on the steps up to the quire, the medieval graffiti in the crypt, the tombs of the Black Prince (with the 45 year old's helmet & shield above), Archbishop Chichele (with a representation of him splendid in life and naked in death), the Hugenot Bishop Odet de Coligny (a temporary one because he was en route back to France) and Archbishop Simon of Sudbury (minus his head).  Sudbury? I had grown up in the market town knowing that Sudbury was famous for 3 things: 1. its silk industry 2. being the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough 3. Simon of Sudbury's head was in St Gregory's church.  I saw the head once but I can't remember now how or why.  But, it meant I felt a local connection with Canterbury Cathedral when I was doing my guiding. 
 
I participated in the ARC Project twice - in the Summers of 1977 and 1978 so two communities of international students. In my sorting, I have found small guide books of the Cathedral - one for each year - with autographs from all the community members therein. 
 
 
Today's quote: 
"...Odet de Coligny, Bishop of Beauvais was a French Hugenot (Protestant) who fled to England to escape the inquisition. Dying under mysterious circumstances in 1571, he was buried in Canterbury Cathedral in what was supposed to be a temporary tomb - until his body could be repatriated to France, but it never was." 
Today's prayer:
Loving God,
May this moment be to us a time of blessing
A time to pause,
to thank you for all the good things you give us,
to delight in your goodness around us.
Open our hearts and minds to your presence
that we may be a blessing
to all whom we meet today.
May God hold you in his love and fill you with his peace
today and everyday. Amen.
Canterbury Cathedral website
 
As always, Jacqui
24th June 2020
 
Dear Friends,
 
My time at University was a rollercoaster of activities, emotions, and experiences.  In between, I studied for a Theology degree and managed to get a 2:1 Honours degree - goodness knows how.  I hadn't intended to study Theology, I had wanted to study English and thought I would be a teacher, like my mum.  But, English was very hard to get into and my first choice, Sussex university, rejected my application. There were 4 other choices on my UCCA form and for the University of Kent (UKC) I had put down English and Theology - because you could have a major and a minor, and because it added a spice of variety to the application form...  However, when I went for the interview at UKC, they asked me whether I would accept an offer just for Theology?  I was only 17, I was rather shy and overawed, I said 'yes'.  And, afterwards, I thought 'Why not? It might be fun...' My dad exploded.  "What do you want to study Theology for?!"  [He was proud of me really, it just often came out as the opposite!]  
 
My life changed from the moment I entered Rutherford College and discovered that I was sharing a tiny room (just room enough for bunk beds, two desks and a kettle). My first room mate Sue did not want to be there - she had definitely put down for a single room - and she got herself out after just 4 weeks. I got on well with her though and remained friendly with her throughout the 3 years.  [She married a vicar and I have googled them recently, they are serving a church in Warwickshire].  After Sue, I had to share with Ann, with whom I had less in common, but we survived.
 
 
In my 2nd year, the Methodist Wesley Deaconess, Sister Diane Langham, gave me a room in her manse and in my 3rd year, I lodged with the other Chaplain - the Methodist Minister in Canterbury, Rev Ray Goodburn and his family. 
 
Going back to the rollercoaster - I got involved in the Methodist Society (Methsoc) where I met Peter and was engaged by the end of the first year, and in the ecumenical Chaplaincy, working with Gwen to organise the weekly evening ecumenical service (mentioned yesterday).  The university - being a newish one then - didn't have a Chapel but we met in the SCR (Senior Common Room). I was President of Methsoc by the end of my 1st year and President of Chaplaincy by the end of my 2nd year. I set about restructuring the latter (foreshadowing the restructuring of the ecumenical scene that I carried through in later life in both Eastbourne and Wymondham!).  I had the opportunity to go on several pilgrimages including part of the Pilgrim's Way (ending in Canterbury), part of the Lyke Wake Walk (ending in Whitby on Easter Day), and to Taize in France where a group of us spent a week in the extremely hot sun under canvas. I lost my voice - I continue to be affected by the heat and hayfever to this very day...  One more sentence about Taize - the best part for me was the amazing church and worshipping with the ecumenical monks in services. On one occasion I stayed in the numinous worship space (lit by candles, open space, the odd icon...) for 3 hours... I didn't want to leave...
 
All this wasn't all as positive as it sounds - I had significant times of depression and breakdown throughout the university years, and received a lot of support from chaplains and others. Mind you, they didn't know what to do with me!  I was referred to a counsellor once, but it wasn't until I was living in Cambridge in my early 20's that I received significant counselling help and began the liberating journey of getting myself sorted out. 
 
I have gone on too long again, and I haven't yet told you about the ARC Project and the Cathedral.  That will have to wait for tomorrow.
 
Today's quote: 

"A university is just a group of buildings gathered round a library"  Shelby Foote   

 
For the first time, I have asked Jen for a prayer this morning and she immediately said this: 
 
Dear God,
As we are facing times of possible change,
help us with any decisions we need to make personally.
Our first decision will always be to follow you.
Amen.
 
As always, Jacqui

PS Coincidences in material are still happening...  maybe they are always there in normal life but I don't always recognise them.  Or, maybe, this is just a weird special time.  Yesterday and today I have mentioned my university career in Canterbury.  At the funeral I took yesterday (it went very well - thank you for everyone who thought of me) I had quite a long opportunity to talk to Geoffrey's niece as we both arrived early at the crematorium. She comes from Canterbury - very near the university - and I ended up telling her about the labyrinth that was built there a few years ago. I went to Canterbury twice last year (once on my own and once with Jen) and the attached photo shows the amazing situation of the labyrinth, overlooking the city with the Cathedral in the middle distance.  AND, my devotional book at the moment is about Pilgrimage.  I turned the page this morning and read 'Pilgrim's Way': Winchester to Canterbury (mentioned above). Strange...

23rd June 2020

Dear Friends,
 
My email about the Olympics the other day brought forth information from one or two of you about your own sporting histories. That made me think of mine. I was involved in school sports of various kinds all the way through until I was 18.  I was good at them - "without being outstanding" - as a school report said about my academic ability, which I quoted a while back!  One running race which lives in my memory as well as in the historical record was in my last Summer in Guernsey when I was 8 (year 3 nowadays, I think). I wrote an account a few months later when I was at Junior School in Sudbury, it is worth quoting in full, I feel. It is headed 'Sports Day' and I type as it was written:
"In Guernsey every year they had the island school sports. Where all the schools in Guernsey take part. The school I was in [Amherst Junior] was the biggest school in the island so we had a better chance of winning because the children would be the best out of lots of children and other children from smaller schools would be the best out of only a few children. I was one of the ones picked to run against other school children. I had to go with two others for practises. On the day of the sports I had a shirt with a number one on my back. When the gun went I was still on the line I suddenly realised the gun had gone and I came last and my dad had his camera and took a photograph. Then a little while later we had our own school sports when we had to run for our houses. I again was chosen. We had the school sports in the park and parents were allowed to watch ..that time my dad did not have his camera and I won the race."
 
 
During my time at Sudbury Girls High School and Sudbury Upper School, I was always in the sports teams - athletics, tennis, netball and hockey. Wing attack in netball, right inner in hockey. I really enjoyed going on a Saturday morning to play matches against other schools, sometimes home matches, sometimes travelling away by coach to Haverhill or Bury St Edmunds or Colchester. It meant I mixed with a different set of girls from my usual friends - including the tougher, wilder ones. These more street-wise girls treated me as a sort of pet - as it feels to me now - I was a minister's daughter (in the 1970's that meant something) but they didn't tease me, just humoured me!
 
One of my only regrets in life (and it is difficult to think of another one - perhaps that I never visited my uncle in Zimbabwe) is that I didn't keep up playing hockey at university. I signed up at the Freshers' Fair and went to one hockey practice but then came a clash of interests. I had to choose between the hockey and planning for an 'ecumenical service' which the Chaplaincy organised. I was very keen to be involved in the latter and the hockey lost out.  What if.....?
 
The Chaplaincy, the ecumenical service, and my time as a student at the University of Kent brings me on to Canterbury which was an important part of my life 1976 - 1979. This gives me my subject for tomorrow...
 
 
Today's quote: 
"Youth may outrun the old, but not outwit"  Geoffrey Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales
 
Today's prayer:
God, you have chosen to give me this race of life,
and I run to complete the course and honour you.
The way is long and sometimes treacherous.
Often I grow exhausted.
Sometimes I want to quit.
But I have a finish line to cross, I run to get there...
...I thank you for the gift of feet.
I run the race you have set for me.
I will not stop short.
I will complete your course - 
for you Jesus.
From an American Christian website
 
As always, Jacqui
 
PS I have a funeral today in St Faith's crematorium - that seems a long way away from Swaffham... it will be my longest journey since March.

PPS This is my 80th email so 22 more to go!  But, I expect I will do weekly catch-ups after that...

22nd June 2020

 
Dear Friends,
 
My 'Calendar of Wild Flowers' book tells me that today is St. Alban's day and it assigns to him the white campion. The book describes Roman Britain in which Alban lived and the roads - "such as the Peddars' Way" along which you could travel to Verulamium, now known as St Albans.  
 
Jen and I had another walk along the Peddars' Way near us on Saturday, we parked near Macdonalds on the A47 and walked in the opposite direction from that of 10 days previously. I wanted to photograph the modern sculpture of a celtic cross that we had seen on the previous occasion.  We came on it very quickly, in fact, maybe it has been deliberately placed not too far from the road. [There are 5 permanent sculptures on the trail - for more information, and pictures, go to http://www.luphen.org.uk/walks/peddars_way/norfolk_songline.htm].  We explored a bit more of the paths the south side of the A47 and then re-traced our steps to walk the other way - to the north. I wanted to find a field of daisies that I remembered from the previous occasion.  Jen was convinced that the field was at the other end of the path, near north Pickenham. We started walking towards Sporle where the path is a road: Me - "I'm sure it was on this stretch where the road becomes a track", Jen - "I'm sure it was at the other end".  The road became a track, but no daisies. Me - "We won't walk in this direction for longer than 20 minutes", Jen - "I'm sure it was at the other end". The track started sloping upwards. On the right was a field with some small daisy like plants. Me - "Perhaps this was it?"  Jen - "We wouldn't have remembered that...." We walked on a little way. Me - "I'm going back to photograph the small daisies, and then I think we should go back to the car", Jen - "I'll just walk to the top of the hill".  I waited for the sun to shine on the small daisies.  A voice came from a distance, "Jack! Jack!" I stirred myself to go back to the path. Jen was beckoning me to go and see. At the top of the hill, we could see - on the right - a field with sporadic daisies, maybe it was an indication. We walked on and, suddenly, on the left, a field opened up, and there were the daisies!  Lots and lots of them...  So, I had been right but it was Jen who had led us to finding them (I would have gone back to the car). We both had the moral victory - phew!  
 
 
Today's quote: 

"(The Peddars Way)... is an incredibly historic trail dating back to AD61 when it was used by the Romans to form paths across East Anglia after the defeat of the (celtic) Iceni tribe who inhabited much of what is now mid-Norfolk. Later in the 15th and 16th centuries this route was named the Peddars Way in honour of the pilgrims who walked to the religious village of Walsingham and the Priory there. This was, and still is, an extremely important pilgrimage route. As you meander along this historic path, bear in mind that you'll be following in the footsteps of both Romans and pilgrims." Explore Norfolk website   

 
St Alban was an ordinary person of pagan beliefs who hid a priest in his house and then swapped places with him after the priest helped him to become a Christian. The priest escaped and Alban was martyred after refusing to give up his new faith. This is a prayer about all saints:
 
Holy God,
you have called witnesses from every nation
and revealed your glory in their lives.
Grant to us the same faith and love
that, following their example,
we may be sustained by their fellowship
and rejoice in their triumph;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Methodist Worship Book

As always, Jacqui

20th June 2020

Dear Friends,
 
A little catch-up on one on two things...  the purple poppies have nearly all gone, so have the foxgloves, but the bedding plants that Jen grew from seed (1st time this year) to 'bob' in amongst the perennials are beginning to flower. People have been sending us their garden photographs for our circuit virtual 'Open Gardens' so we have been having fun looking at them all.  It would have been nice if we had been able to visit all the gardens but looking on a computer is much less tiring and probably nearly as much fun!  Jen went over to Dereham yesterday to take pictures of a couple of gardens and the owners were so pleased, they kept thanking her... but, really, they are doing us a favour!
 
I have finished my book on the 40 celtic saints and am now going on to 40 paintings with a little description and thought for each day. The Rainbow book had coloured American breakfast cereal yesterday and similarly coloured American donuts today - not keen on those, hope it is something nicer tomorrow. 
 
And something I have been waiting to share with you is a story I was told after my emails about Chatsworth and the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire.  I will let Val (from Bury) tell it in her own words:
In 1968 I was working for Highway Holidays, a Christian house-party holiday company. We were using Cliff College and a group of us (all young holiday staff) decided to go out for a meal at a pub. We thought there was a pub called The Duke of Devonshire so I rang Directory Enquiries to get the tel no. Long before the internet that is what you did. I was given a telephone number which I dialled. A man answered and I said, "Is that the Duke of Devonshire?" and he said "Yes". I was about to ask for a table for 6 when it suddenly dawned on me by his slightly irritated tone and cultured accent that it was not a pub landlord but a Duke I was addressing. I apologised hastily and rang off...
 
Finally, today, a new topic.  I sponsor a little boy in Ethiopia called Teketel. He is the same age as my eldest grandchild - well, at least, he is catching Henry up tomorrow on his 7th birthday. [Henry was 7 in February].  If you could spare a thought, or a prayer, for Teketel today or tomorrow and for his family (especially in this time of coronavirus) I would be grateful. [I have just looked up the incidence of the virus in Ethiopia, it doesn't look too bad at the moment, only 72 deaths in a very big country].
 
 
Today's quote: 
"I must have flowers, always, and always"  Claude Monet
 
Today's prayer:
Loving God,
on this longest day
help us to make the most
of the hours that we have been given
and the light of your love.
Amen.

As always, Jacqui

PS A mixture of photos today covering flowers, my little Ethiopian boy, and a fascinating picture sent to me by Heather of Hingham - taken after one of the recent rain showers.

 

I began sending 'chatty' emails on March 23rd and, sometime after, also reproduced them on here.  The word limit on a page does not allow me to keep everything but, if you would like to know about emails prior to those shown, please get in touch.