Saturday, February 28, 2009


New shoes!

(backposting) A lovely quiet day. Moo and I drove to Kirkby Lonsdale and did some random shopping. The most interesting purchase (apart from some lovely, lovely black pudding) was a new pair of Doc Martens for me. Size 12 (I think my feet have grown since we had kids), just above the ankle. Very, very comfortable. Other than that, watching rugby on the television (and why, oh why can't England maintain some discipline), more of the Wire series 3, and some general TV. Talked to the girls on the phone: they're fine.

We're on holiday, and it's just fine. Oh, yes.


Friday, February 27, 2009



So, I'm up in a cottage in Dent with my lovely wife. I've been watching Ice Age on DVD, the cricket (West Indies-England test match) and random religious broadcasting on Sky, and the news. And Moo's been knitting.

And that's it. We've not been looking after the girls. Because Kate and Mac (my parents-in-law) are.

It's the first time that Moo and I have spent a night away together without the girls since Jo was born, now 4 years ago. We know this isn't good, but we're so pleased to be here, and just relaxing and spending easy times with each other. Many thanks to Kate and Mac.

Oh, and I've managed to get this machine online despite not having the relevant documentation, remembering stuff I last had to do around 3 years ago, about which I'm pretty chuffed.

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Ash Wednesday

(backposting) Today is the first day of Lent. I forgot, of course, to mention that we had pancakes for supper last night with the girls. Anyway, back to Lent. I'm not a big fan of giving things up for Lent (though I've done it in the past), but more of changing things in your life. I'm going to try to spend less time sitting in front of the TV playing games on my iPod, when I could be reading theology or Trollope. The latter may seem odd, but I've never read Barchester Towers before, and I'm really enjoying it: not only is it funny (very), but I'm learning lots about the state of the Church of England in the 19th Century.

I took part in two services today. I took an early lunch break, and participated in a school service, and in the evening, I took part in a service. In both cases, I took the deacon's role, and both of them were the Holy Communion with ashing. I've only attended one ashing service before, and I really enjoyed it. I was leading the prayers of penitence in the evening one, and realised as we were getting towards it that it felt wrong to ask the congregation to kneel and pray if I was sitting or standing behind the altar, so I went round in front of the altar and led the prayers from there. Luckily, John, who was leading the service, was happy with it, and I felt it worked very well. James preached an excellent sermon on "time", which I enjoyed very much.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009


My first funeral

(backposting) I'd arranged a while ago to be on holiday, and then discovered that Moo hadn't (a communications breakdown somewhere), so when I was asked to take a funeral, I agreed. Although I've attended a few, this is the first that I've taken, and I was quite nervous. I won't go into details - I don't think it's appropriate - but the lady had been a cook and loved dancing - as well as a glass of wine after a meal - so I talked about her life, and the reflected on the place of food, drink and dancing in the Bible, and given a bodily resurrection, we can expect to enjoy the same in heaven. We then journeyed to Chelmsford crematorium for the committal. It all went very well, and I was very happy with it. It was a real privilege, as I've said before.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Meeting for lunch

(backposting) I met a (clergy) friend for lunch, having gone into Cambridge in the morning, in the hopes of finding a good book about Tomcat. It wasn't just that I failed miserably to find a good book about Tomcat: I couldn't find a single on in the shops I traipsed round. So, I came back home and used the Internet, though it would have been more efficient if I'd managed to find something with it all in one place. I'd hoped to meet an old friend for coffee, but it turned out to be an almost completely wasted morning.

Lunch, however, was good, and we chewed the fat, discussing this and that: it's good to see people you've not spent time with for a while, and just eat and spend time.

In the afternoon, I wrote up the work I've been doing for work: what Daemon noted I enjoyed not being able to talk about. We'll see what comes of it (if anything).

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Monday, February 23, 2009



Today I took some time in the middle of the day and did my first interment of ashes, in Halstead cemetery. It was quick, and a real privilege. The enjoyment I get from these ceremonies has been a real surprise to me, and I'm really looking forward to my first funeral on Thursday.

In work news, I'm doing some interesting work about securing machines in a new way. Not something I can talk about, but that's fun, too.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009


A trip to A and E (again)

So, went to church with the girls, and they were pretty well-behaved for most of it. They're really getting to be pretty good, and I even managed to hear almost of all of James' sermon. Afterwards, we went to the back of the church for some squash for Jo. Jo was sitting down on a pew, and Miri tried to get up. And her elbow went again. I could tell immediately what it was - and she knew, too. So, I phoned Moo, got our stuff put together, and headed off home, where I dropped Jo. Miri was already asleep, but I tried raising her arm above her head briefly. She half-woke up, and was a bit sad, so I set off for Addenbrooke's A & E.

She woke up when I parked, and it was immediately clear that her arm was 100% better. It must have sorted itself when I raised above her head (which is the trick the nurse in A & E managed last time) or while she was asleep. Either way, it saved us a trip, as I headed home, just paying £3.00 for parking, but we'll try to get her referred to someone to look into it.

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Jo's new bike

Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

Took Jo to Clare Country Park this afternoon to try out her new bike (our birthday present to her), and had a blast. Moo and Miri stayed at home while Jo cycled around the park. The bike can freewheel, and is a much better fit than her last one had got to be, and I ended up taking rather a lot more exercise than I'd expected: she was really shifting, and I had to maintain a fast jog to keep up.


Effy the Newf

Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

This is Effy, a Newfoundland bitch we met in Clare Country Park. As Jojo pointed out to Moo when we got back, "Daddy didn't cry this time."

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaarty time!

(backposting) Jo's birthday and party today. The big package of party things which Moo ordered over a week ago hadn't arrived by the time I got Jo back from ballet (I'd had Miri, too, to allow Moo to do baking in quiet), and so I had to make an emergency trip to Sainsbury's (again with both girls). Let's not start on how cross Moo will be on the phone on Monday with the people who didn't ship stuff in time, but we got the party started (just about) on time. It was close getting everything set up, but we had a real blast. Tosha came and painted lots of faces, Nik came and got lots of kids very excited and tired by running around a lot. I organised party games: bobbing apples and face paints don't mix...; sleeping lions (to "Oh so quiet" by Björk); dancing ("Timewarp" and "Shake your tailfeather", which went down very well with the kids) and general fun.

How tired were the girls afterwards...? Very, very tired.

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Friday, February 20, 2009


The Natural History Museum

Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

See, told you it was busy. Really very busy.


"Why's that man got a gun, Mummy?"

These are not words you want to hear on a tube in London. We were stopped, with the doors open, at a station, and Jo and Moo were facing the platform, while I was facing away. You know when the adrenalin suddenly kicks in, and you start thinking very, very quickly? One of those times. Moo, answered, rather calmly, "he's in a film, Jo," and only then saw my reaction. It was, of course, just a poster, and a significant relief...

We were in London because Jo wanted to go to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Unluckily, Jo wasn't the only child to have this idea, and we weren't the only parents to agree to the plan. South Kensington tube station was closed due to over-crowding, so we got off at Gloucester Road tube, with hundreds of other people, from whence we walked to join the queues the stretched from the entrance, down the ramp, snaking round the grounds, and for about 100m on the pavement. It moved fairly quickly, and we decided not to join the queue that wound round the main hall towards the full dinosaur exhibit: another 150m or so, at a guess. Instead, we wandered round some of the other halls, saw some aquatic fossils, had some lunch (expensive, but good food), and then looked at the evolution exhibits. I gave Jo a quick lecture on evolution and how Charles Darwin (whose statue now sits on the stairs overlooking the main hall) is a hero. I'm not sure how much she understood about Australopithecus' relationship to modern humans, but she seemed interested and took some of it in.

Went home (via Gloucester Road again, as South Kensington tube was closed again), and Jo, who was on her knees with tiredness, fell asleep in the car. Back home for fish and chips with Miri (who was very pleased to see us!) and Mel. The girls fell asleep very, very quickly, and we've spent the rest of the evening to now wrapping presents, baking muffins, cakes and the rest and preparing for the party tomorrow. How can it be so much hard work?

A tiring day, but a good one.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009


First funeral

Next week, I'll be doing my first funeral. I'd taken Thursday off, but Moo hadn't, due to a misunderstanding, and so when a funeral came up, I agreed to take it. I've attended a funeral and a service at the crematorium, and a number of other services in previous contexts, and it's time.

Interesting stuff going on at work, too, which is good.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Kernels and zoos

(backposting) Mum took the girls to Colchester zoo today. I think she found it harder work than expected, but to be fair, the place was packed, as it's half-term. Jo's also getting steadily more (over-)excited by her forthcoming birthday, and Miri couldn't work out whether to walk or be in the pushchair. Everyone survived, though, and got back in time to make buns, most of which I ate.

In other news, I'm back hand-rolling kernels. I've not had occasion to configure and craft my own kernel version for _ages_, and I am enjoying myself. There's even a work-related reason for it, so I don't feel guilty about indulging in what is, undeniably, an extremely geeky pursuit. I note that there's some corollary to a well-known "law" which I propose thus: the number of options in a standard kernel will expand to compensate for compilation time reductions delivered by Moore's Law.

Oh, but it _is_ fun.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Mum, mum, singing and Harkaway

Not just the mother of my children, but my mum is also in the house, as she's come to stay. She's got a lovely Sony e-book type of thing, which which I'm rather impressed. On a separate note, I'm trying to collect a bunch of friends together to do some singing. And on another, yet more separate note, Nick Harkaway (aka Nick Cornwell) is annoyingly funny and clever, darn him.

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Monday, February 16, 2009


Roof-leaks be gone

So, I spent part of my lunch-hour on the roof, re-flashing it with flashing tape and primer. It's always leaked from time to time, particularly after snow or very heavy rain, but it's been getting worse, which isn't good. The house is old, but it's not good, and, what's more, my mum's coming to stay tomorrow, and the spare room is one of the leaky ones, so..,


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Interesting reading(s)

The readings for Morning Prayer today were interesting: very thought-provoking, in fact. They were Deuteronomy 8.1-10 and Matthew 6.25-34. The first tells the Israelites that God didn't forsake them while they were in the wilderness for 40 years: they didn't go hungry, and there clothes didn't wear out. What's more, he's going to give them a land of milk and honey: "a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing". The second is the famous "consider the lilies of the field" passage, telling people not to worry about what they'll drink, eat and wear: God will provide. "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

Although there have been mendicant orders through the ages who have gone out with nothing, and relied on others to support them, most people do accept that at least some planning is sensible, and particularly so, it would seem, in a recession. But the message seems to be that we shouldn't get hung up on worry, and that God _will_ provide. This is a hard thing to hear, particularly as God often doesn't seem to provide - at least what we want. And is it easier for those of us with jobs, and houses, and families and educations to accept this message? Or is it harder if you're always expecting your next meal, rather than being in a position where you've always known that that you can't expect it? So, today was one of those days when the Daily Office really spoke to me, and I honestly don't know what to make of it. Other than to realise that I don't understand, and I need to think and pray.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Valentine's Day

At some point, Moo and I ought to get round to writing each other a card. We've both bought one, but haven't written in them yet. We don't really do Valentine's Day, given that the 13th is our engagement anniversary.

Bad news though: not only did I have to miss the second half of the Wales-England game (some idiot had scheduled it over the kids' bedtime), but we also lost, 23-15. Not good.

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Friday, February 13, 2009



At Moo's insistence, I went to the doctor today to show her my cough. She seemed to like it enough to want to listen to it via my back, using a stethoscope. It must have impressed her significantly, as she gave me a prize to take away: a week's worth of antibiotics. These will make me loopy for approximately 7 days.

Other exciting news today: I asked Moo to marry me 16 years ago. And she said yes. I was down on one knee, on King's College bridge (in Cambridge) with a diamond ring which I'd bought with money I'd borrowed from the college (though I'd not told them why). We weren't feeling desperately romantic, so I gave her a bag (pink) for her new netbook (pink), and she gave me the series 2 and 3 of The Wire, which we've enjoyed watching immensely. We popped out for lunch, and in the evening had sausages, mash and baked beans: a staple stay-at-home treat. And we finished off series 1 of The Wire, which was an excellent way to finish off the evening.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009



  1. is that a word?
  2. I went to a funeral visit yesterday, and had a horrible, horrible moment half-way through when I thought that the dog had died on the sofa
  3. who'd have thought that planning a 4th birthday party would bring a couple so close to starting divorce proceedings?
  4. "Baaaaaagpoooooossssssss" (Miri)
  5. I have a bishop following my twitterings
  6. accordingly to Belief-o-matic at - is a Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestant (100%), which is something of a relief
  7. should we encourage adults to come forward for baptisms whenever we have an infant baptism?
  8. Twittersheep is cool: looks like the people who follow me are big into church and the Bible
  9. pidgin rocks, and I can use it for twitter, facebook, skype, AIM, MSN, Jabber, ...
  10. I've got some really good mates, some of whom who I've never met
  11. the not meeting doesn't matter
  12. please pray (if that's your thing) for Sally, Lucy, Steve, Joe, Sue's family, Sylvia's family and all those coming to terms with redundancy or the possibility of losing their job


Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Road or river

(backposting) Lots of rain led to big flooding outside our house, though it wasn't as bad as 8 years ago. In the end, the police closed the road, but in the meantime, we kept trying to turn people back, as most of them would either: get stuck, as their car wasn't big enough; go too fast, creating a bow-wave that caused more flooding (only one house under water this year, but 2 more were threatened). You'll find pictures here and here. For some reason, Flickr doesn't want to post them here.


Monday, February 09, 2009


Crying children and comedy

No, not connected. Miri, last night, woke up just as I was just about to go up to bed. I calmed her down, and as I got ready to go to bed, Moo looked after her. When I went back in (Miri was already in our bed), Miri lost it: she really, really wanted Moo there, and cried - _really_ cried - for 30 minutes. I've never known anything like it. She was really sad, and in the end, I went downstairs, where Moo had luckily just finished the work she'd needed to do, and, after a while, Miri calmed down. Poor little thing.

And today I've been finding out more about Tim Minchin, mainly by watching him on YouTube. He's very funny. As I put it on Facebook: you know how, if you're going to be entirely orthodox, certain people _are_ going to hell, but you hope you'll be there to enjoy it with them? Tim Minchin.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009


Preaching against creationism and so-called "Intelligent Design"

Well, I've got people clamouring on Facebook to find out what I preached on. I they don't seem that interested in other issues, so I probably shouldn't talk about taking the girls swimming to Halstead pool, or how it was Miri who was a pain to get to sleep tonight, but it was Moo who ended up putting her to bed.

Well, I preached on the theory of evolution. I started by introducing Charles Darwin as a fervent abolitionist and also an agnostic, and then talked about how he wrote a book which many Christians have had problems with, but which has lots of mistakes in it. I then introduced the Bible, in particular the Book of Genesis, with which it is often compared. I then explained how although Darwin got quite a few things wrong, the theory that he came up with has stood the test of time, and has turned out to be very resilient. How could you expect him to get it all right when he didn't have all the benefits of modern genetics, or the evidence that people have been gathering to refine the theory over the 150 odd years since he published "Origin of the Species"? The theory of evolution is a strong, resilient theory which has been shown to be usable to make predictions, and which is almost universally accepted by the scientific community worldwide.

What about the Bible, and the account of creation in Genesis? First of all, I believe that it's fantastic poetry, but I don't read Hebrew at all, so I couldn't tell. Second, it's a description aimed at people who lived 3, maybe 4 thousand years ago. And third, it's not science, and neither was it ever meant to be. The idea of science as, well, a "thing", a "discipline", even an idea is completely alien to the Old Testament (well, the New Testament as well): this is not a scientific account, but an attempt to explain how God's love moved into our world through creation.

I then went on to explain that creationists, and those who espouse so-called "Intelligent Design", rather annoy me, because at least part of my background is as a scientist. The theory of evolution has passed the test of time and the scientific community: why are we worried by this, when the alleged "alternative" account was never meant to fulfill the same role at all? And more than that, the God who _I_ believe in is greater than the one they seem to believe in. The God I believe in can work through evolution, through the theories of Newton and Einstein, and isn't worried that we'll work out how the world works: creation, and His acting through it, is the out-working of his love, and this God is not so weak that He has to tweak evolution from time to time in order to make, for instance, the eye. I think that's poor theology, let alone poor science.

So, that's my sermon, give or take. I gave it twice - once at the 0800, and once at the 1000. Slightly different each time, as I wasn't using notes - and I got positive feedback both times. People _want_ to hear about these things, and as it's so rarely the liberal view which is expounded with any passion, hopefully I'm redressing the balance somewhat.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009


Cough, cough

(backposting) Woke up not very well, and went back to bed, where I slept for 2-3 hours: thanks very much to Moo for letting me to this (as she had to look after the girls while I did). We then went off to Freeport for lunch, and ended up not only buying Miri a new carseat (moving up to the >15kg type, and it was in fact 2, as we'll need one for Mel's car, too), but also going to see the film Bolt (in 2D, as we couldn't face the trauma around children and 3D glasses). We rather enjoyed it, and Jo got really into it (she burst into tears when it looked like the dog was going to walk away, and cried "the cat must tell him, the cat must tell him"), Miri called out "CAT!" whenever the cat came onto the screen (which was often), and clearly neither Moo nor I had tears in our eyes at the denouement, oh no.

Miri was a nightmare to get to bed last night, and Jo tonight. I got the short straw both times.

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Friday, February 06, 2009



Not much sleep last night, not feeling well. Got some new cough medicine which is good, though. Janet, a friend from ERMC, has just got a Newf. I'm very jealous.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


Annual trip to A & E

We last visited an A & E on Jo's birthday in February last year, so it was clearly time for another trip. This time, it was Miri's turn, which makes a refreshing change. Moo was away late, and I was just about to take the girls upstairs to bed, as they were both very, very tired, and was sitting on the sofa. Miri was clambering around behind me, and suddenly she started to cry loudly. I was pretty sure, within seconds, that it was the same problem that Jo's had a couple of times: the ligament in the elbow pops out. It's easy to put back in, but I've never managed to do it myself: partly because you don't want to upset the poor child any more than they already are.

So, I called Moo for ideas, and ended up calling the (fantastic) Kristi and Paul, parents of Jo and Miri's friends Louie and Poppy, and Kristi soon came around to take care Jo back to their house, and to lend me a car seat (Moo had both of our ones in her car, of course). Moo suggested I call the out-of-hours doctors' service, and I wasted 15 minutes or so waiting for them to call back before heading off for Addenbrooke's A & E. When they did get back to me, they advised me to do that anyway, so that was fine.

I'd given Miri some Calpol, and she'd calmed down pretty quickly, and slept all the way to Cambridge. And then we were seen pretty quickly, and the nurse's examination actually put the ligament back in place (in fact, just taking her top off did it, which is a good trick to know for next time). This avoided an hour or more wait, and we got back home around 2030. Mel had got a text from Kristi, and had phoned them, and when she'd spoken to Jo, Jo had clearly been a bit upset, so Mel had come over and picked her up. Jo was asleep by the time I got back, and Mel's just a complete star. In fact, Jo had a been a complete star, too, and had got herself changed really quickly and without any hassle when I asked her. And she went off with Kristi without any complaint, too, so I'm going to find a really nice treat for her tomorrow morning.

And, for extra excitement, we're expecting more snow tonight...

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Curates get-together

(backposting) We had a get-together this evening for the new curates in the area (that's me and a bunch of others), and four of us made it. We had a good chat about Christmas, about preaching, and about how it's all working for us. Of the four of us, there were two full-time, and two self-supporting, so there was a good mix, and it was a good opportunity to share the joys and the frustrations of ministry.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009



I had a review of my curacy so far with my CME officer and training incumbent this evening. It went well, I think. Here are some of the things that came up from my end: I really enjoy what I do, and although it's hard work to balance things - and that hard work will continue - it's a real privilege and a joy.


Monday, February 02, 2009


Snow time

Originally uploaded by MikeCamel

This is a picture of Jo on a tray, in the snow. It looks like she's in fast motion, but she's not. But we had a good time. You'll find more pictures on my Flickr photostream, including a picture of Miri and her little friend Poppy, one of Moo holding a (now crying) Miri: she got cold.

There are also pictures of some rather good play-dough animals that Moo and I made. The pig (on its own) is mine, following instructions from a Shaun the Sheep DVD: I'm quite pleased with it. The other ones are Moo's: she's good, really good.

Sunday, February 01, 2009



Of course evolution and natural selection are correct: how can they not be? We have to use our minds and accept the truth as God reveals it to us. I really have mo problem with reconciling this with my belief, my faith: none at all. I'm afraid that I have real problems with anyone who is a fundamentalist: and I'm afraid that Creationists - a particular flavour of Christian fundamentalist - are among the worst.

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