Friday, April 30, 2010
Off to the in-laws(backposting) Well, Moo and I have a day away planned. But in order to execute the plan, we need to do something with the girls. Option? Well, my lovely in-laws have stepped up to the plate, so after work, we drove up to Loughborough-way. The girls stayed up for ages, and it would have been nice if they'd been asleep rather more before 2300 than they were. Oh, well.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
VotingWell, given what I've seen of them, I'll be voting LibDem next Thursday. There's no way I can vote Conservative, on basic idealogical grounds. I'm closest to Labour in terms of policies, but I think they're tired and I don't trust them. Clegg and the LibDems should at least keep them a little more honest, and I think he'd make a real statesman. I can't say that of either of the other two.
Macca(backposting) I went to a school reunion bash thing in a club in London (not as posh as it sounds), and who should walk in behind me but Sir Paul McCartney. Well, well. Good to see some old friends, particularly Tal. /me waves.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Harry PotterWell, neither us felt like watching TB tonight, so I popped round next door and hired Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I've certainly seen it before, though Moo can't remember if she has. Fun to watch, though. Oh, and I've got another knitting project on the go, which is good.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Jelly and JerusalemWhat we call jam, Americans tend to call jelly. So there's some sort of link with "Jam and Jerusalem" there, if only a weak one. Last time I preached, I preached on jelly (see entries passim): this time, I preached on Jerusalem, the William Blake poem. Today's Vocation Sunday, and I wanted to combine the issue of St George's day, and its misappropriation by the Far Right (the BNP, mostly), football hooligans, etc.) and vocations. I preached about how all vocations should - and must - be rooted in community, and how we're the Church of England. We have the opportunity to reclaim national identity, and Jerusalem is a very aspirational song: we won't be resting until we've brought Jerusalem - and the Kingdom - to England. I find it a very moving hymn, and we sang it at the end of the sermon to cement the message. It went down well.
A back home for another barbecue (though we ate inside as the weather couldn't make up its mind). Our mate Richard came round with Jo's friend Ellie, and the girls played absolutely brilliantly while the grown-ups chatted. A good day.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Time alone(backposting) No, not on my own. With Moo. As of this week, we have regular time scheduled without the kids for the first time in 5 years. It's just an hour and a half while the girls do ballet on a Saturday morning (Miri's joined Jo's class), but it's actual time. We went for tea/coffee and cake, and I rather wasted some of the time by having a haircut, but it's there, and it's regular. Yay!
And afterwards we headed off to Freeport, where they have a bouncy trampoline-bungee thing which we'd promised Jojo she could have a go on if I went to Australia - as she did when I went to the US for 2 weeks last year. It turned out that Miri's now big enough, too, so they both had a lovely time. We headed off to Tesco for a big shop, came home and had a picnic outside in the garden, and then did some basic gardening (including the second lawn mowing of the year).
The evening, however, was BBQ time. We went round to the Plants, where they barbecued for the four of us adults and the four kids. Well, more like for six adults. And the kids hardly ate. So we stuffed ourselves. A good evening with Si and D and the kids.
Friday, April 23, 2010
And Australia (Fame!)(backposting) Yes, the flights are booked. Thai Airways, and the Four Points Sheraton, Darling Harbour, for the first trip, at least. Don't have a hotel booked for the second trip yet. I did remember to apply for a visa, luckily.
And we're watching Fame! (the original series, 1982). What a show! What over-acting! What shirts! What leggings! And what I flame I discovered that the 11-12 year old me was holding for the English teacher, Elizabeth Sherwood (played by Carol Mayo Jenkins)!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
And home again!Wasn't due to leave Cardiff till around 1700, and therefore to be back home pretty late. But managed to finish all the work early, and headed off after lunch, getting back in time for the girls' bedtime, which was a real treat.
Now watching the UK Election Leaders' Debate. Clegg's winning it again, for my money: fascinating.
Note to self: 7.5, then 2, then 6 hours driving on consecutive days isn't so good.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Caerdydd(backposting) Or, in English, "Cardiff". Another lovely city, particularly in the sun. If only it were a little warmer. I'm due to spend 2 days here working on some very specific issues for a customer. Had a good day at work, then discovered Brains' The Rev. James. Very pleasant pint. (Or two of them, to be honest). Then to Wagamama for supper, and then to the hotel (Radisson Blu, as in Brussels: pretty nice), and then to sleep.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Norwich and Somerset(backposting) Headed off to Norwich around 0700, arrived around 0900. Slooooooooooowwwwwwww around Thetford. I do like Norwich: it reminds me of Bristol, in that it seems to have a soul, there's a community spirit, and a proper accent, too.
A good meeting, anyway, and I headed off around 1430: a good old drive down to my parents in Somerset. Lovely to see them, and Polly (my lovely sis) came round for supper as well. Unluckily her husband, Lee, wasn't very well, so had to stay at home, but it was brill to see Poll (and Mum and Dad, of course). And then to bed.
Monday, April 19, 2010
No way(backposting) No, I'm not going to head into London today. Not if I'm heading off to Norwich tomorrow and then Bristol, and Cardiff on Wednesday and Thursday. Luckily my boss is pretty cool about these things.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
A quiet dayKate and Mac left around coffee time, and we had a lovely day with the girls, playing out in the garden, gardening. I had a bit of a sleep during the afternoon (thanks, Moo!), and barbecued a shoulder of lamb for supper. Some downtime: just what we needed.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
An ordination(backposting) Slept in, then headed out to a proper continental breakfast: freshly squeezed orange juice, croissant, tea/coffee, convivial surroundings...
And then off to l'Église Saint Jean Berchmans for Hervé-Pierre's ordination to the priesthood. He's a Jesuit with a passionate belief in ecumenism and integration, and I was so honoured when he asked me if I'd read the Gospel in English, after a deacon (diacré) friend of his read it in French. The language was mainly in French, with English explanations, and also bits of the service in German and Flemish: quite the multi-lingual affair. I enjoyed it immensely, I have to say, though there were issues. I'd already known that I wouldn't be able to receive communion or to lay my hand on him as part of the ordination, but it was more difficult than I'd expected. In particular, watching all the other priests - there must have been over over 40 of them - file past, and lay their hand on him, was very, very hard. I don't think I've ever felt more a priest, and I had tears in my eyes and flowing down my face.
All the priests concelebrated, too: holding out their hands, and saying the words of institution, and I couldn't do that either. Nor receive communion. It was hard. But the rest of the service was joyous, it really was, and I'd not have been anywhere else. And Hervé-Pierre was radiant. There was only one thing that I felt that I couldn't join in during the service was the invocation of the Saints during the litany. There was a lot of "priez pour nous", and I just didn't feel happy, theologically, so I just kept my mouth closed during that part: the rest was fine. I'm not theologically convinced by the dedication of the Eucharist to Hervé-Pierre. For me, the suggestion that you can dedicate a Mass / Eucharist / Communion to someone (living or dead) is senseless. But I can understand why, if you took the view that it was sensible, then dedication of this service to the ordinand was touching.
After the service, there was a buffet lunch. I spoke lots of French, which was a real treat. Although far from perfect, my French is good, and I had some interesting chats with some Jesuits - and non-Jesuits. A number of them seemed to have no problem with my ministry or ordination: the best comment was the one of them said he thought that my ordination (as long as it wasn't too "low"!) was more valid that an of those by Bishop Lefebvre! (Note: not sure I mean this one, but can't track the right one down).
We headed off, walked around the centre of Brussels - Kate had never visited the Grande Place before - and then we had a meal, headed caught the Eurostar, a tube, a train, drove back, and got home around 2310. A great day.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Eurostar(backposting) Well, I'm very, very glad that we'd booked the Eurostar, rather than flying. Kate (my mother-in-law) and I are off to Brussels for the priesting of a Roman Catholic friend of ours. You should have seen the queues for tickets.
Now, some might say that a trip abroad with your mother-in-law was a recipe for disaster, but we get on pretty well most of the time, and I'd phoned the hotel this morning to ensure that we had (as I'd originally booked) got separate rooms. So, pretty safe. I met her at Liverpool Street station after work, and we headed round the Circle Line to King's Cross St Pancras. Nice glass of Chablis, and then onto Eurostar. A good journey, and we caught a taxi to the Radisson Blu, Brussels. A nice hotel, actually: I'd booked a couple of months ago, and got a rate of just €51 a night per room: excellent, for the quality. They recommended Le Volle Gas, and it was great. We had moules (we both love mussels!) and steack frite (steak and chips): both Belgium specialities. I heartily recommend the restaurant: but do check the price of the wine first...
To bed latish, but good to know that Moo has her dad with her to help look after the girls
Thursday, April 15, 2010
PoliticsI'm watching the UK prime ministerial debate, or whatever they're calling it, on TV. Cameron and Brown are painting Clegg as the non-statesman, the newcomer without the history and experience, and he seems to be playing along. I think that it's working for him, though. I'm rather impressed, and I'm feeling more likely to vote for his party than I was before.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Architectural thinking(backposting) One of the joys of my job is the opportunity to do some thinking at an architectural level. This isn't just in terms of the systems that we deliver to customers, but also to have some input into the base product that we produce as a company. I've been thinking about a particular technique recently, and had the chance to present it to the CTO and a couple of other people. I got a reply back from the CTO which just said "thinking...", which is about as good as you get. If I've managed to make him think, even if we don't end up going with the particular suggestion that I came up with, then hopefully some good will come of it, and I'm happy. I'm not the sort of person who gets territorial about ideas that I have: if they're not great, I'd like to explore them further. I'm an INTJ, and this is how I work!
On a more ENTJ issue, I was very pleased to hear from my previous employer that they're pushing through a patent application that I came up with. I'm very pleased: again, it's an idea that I had being followed through. Yay.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Duck tour birthday(backposting) Today's birthday girl was Miri, who turned 3. And the big treat was to London, where we went on the excellent London Duck Tours. This takes you on a tour around the main sites of London on the roads, followed by taking the vehicle - which is amphibious - onto the Thames for a trip past Lambeth Palace and the Houses of Parliament. Both girls loved it, and Miri even managed despite getting a soaking from a wave while we were on the river.
Neither Moo nor I was feeling very well, but we all had a good day. Now we don't have a 2 year old any more. :-(
Monday, April 12, 2010
A big little girl - tomorrowMiri turns 3 tomorrow, little thing. She's very excited (in fact, according to Moo, she had a bit of a melt-down around suppertime because she felt that she should be getting all her presents today). It's going to be strange not having a 2 year old in the house anymore. :-(
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Two mistakes - and a denThe first mistake I made was to forget that the 1000 service that I was taking, and at which I was preaching, was an all ages service, and to assume that I could reuse the "we all have a duty to vote, so make sure you do, even if it's hard to work out who to vote for" sermon I'd given at the 0800. The second was to ask a 5-year old, 30 minutes before the service, what I should preach about. She said "jelly".
So, I gave a sermon about jelly. Well, it was really more about metaphors, and how, although being able to say "God is a bit like jelly" (à la Lionel Blue) is useful, as it is to be able to say that God is like silence, or a roaring wind, or fire, or whatever, it's also dangerous, because we all experience all of these things in different ways, and although for me to say that "God is like a snake" might be positive (I really like snakes), for many others it might be very negative. I've never received a round of applause from an entire congregation before: it was really nice! Lots of people said they enjoyed the service too: I do enjoy running an informal service when appropriate.
We barbecued again (the girls helped me with making beefburgers), and then I cleared "the den" (or "spider city", as Jo had named it): a little place up from the green house, which is safe and (now) clean and clear of spider-webs (if not _entirely_ of spiders). It's a great den, and the the girls are very, very pleased with it.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
An actual temperature(backposting) Woke up not feeling very well at all. Shaky, achy, and running a bit of a temperature. Sleeping most of the morning really helped: thanks very, very much, darling Moo.
However, got up and was feeling much better, so light gardening duties beckoned. And a barbecue. So, all-in-all, with the shredder, it went well, though I did need to have a bit of a sit-down from time to time. Very nice to get the barbecue going - though the girls seemed in two minds about the chicken to start with.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Facebook and speaking outThere's someone I've been considering unfriending on Facebook recently, as I find his views very difficult. He's from the US, a Christian, but regularly posts what I'd consider very right-wing views about "big government" and poverty. In the end, I've decided that rather than unfriending him, I should respond to some of his posts. I've tried to do some in a measured way, bringing in a bit of theology, and although he doesn't agree - and others also don't - at least there's dialogue. And I've made another new friend from it, too, which is good.
If in doubt, I'm of the view that one should engage, rather than step back. My challenge is to do so in a loving, respectful, Christian way.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
SpringtimeWent for a lovely, lovely walk today. Beetles out, butterflies, sky-larks and the local youth were all out enjoying the sunshine.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
We _are_ off to see the wizardIt looks like the trip to Australia is on. In fact, 2 trips: I said I really couldn't do 6 weeks in one stretch, so I'm doing 2 fortnights, separated by a week or two. It'll be hard to be away, but it's important work for the company, and we've got a compromise that should be OK.
I think the girls will be expecting presents. And fair enough, too. And Moo.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
To Oz, or not to Oz?That really is the question. We're trying to work out whether it's going to happen or not. And for how long. 6 weeks is too long, but I'm working with a colleague to work out how, and if, it's all going to pan out.
Monday, April 05, 2010
Staunton Harold, and big dogs(backposting) We headed off to Staunton Harold to have a look around today, and had a nice time. I bought Kate a nice amber necklace and a silver one for Moo. There were also owls to be admired and we met a lovely St Bernard puppy as well. Afterward, we headed off to Calke Abbey for lunch, but by the time we got there, it was heaving, and there was no way we were going to get any food in decent time, so we headed off again and came across a lovely pub/inn: The Paddock, in Melbourne. Friendly welcome, good food, lovely people, decent prices, and a proper big dog: a Great Dane. The girls were fine with both of them: I'm glad that they've known big dogs. At some point we'll get another one, but it's not time yet.
In the afternoon, we headed off to see Moo's Nanna Jo, who's old, frail and rather confused. But happy, and well-looked after, which is very important.
In the evening, we drove back in the two cars, and got back before it got too late.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Easter: Christ is risen, Alleluia!(backposting) I had a bit of a sleep in, and did some knitting. I'd really hoped to get something finished before the service, but didn't quite manage it. Then to church in Halstead. I was presiding: another great service to be taking. One of the things we did was the renewal of baptismal vows in the middle of the service. I decided to move to the crossing in the centre of the congregation, move the acolytes with candles to the ends of the pews, and then to sprinkle the congregation with water from the font (which was filled last night as part of the Easter Eve vigil). This meant that people were facing inwards, and making the vows in the sight of both God and each other.
A good service, with a better turn-out than I'd expected, and then I popped home to change and then hopped in the car and drove the couple of hours or so up to Kate and Mac's, where Moo had gone with the girls yesterday. They were very pleased to see me, as was I, them. A joyous Easter indeed.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
More films, and a visit(backposting) Sitting in the restaurant yesterday, we noted via Facebook that a friend of ours (of my sort of age *gulp*) was in hospital. A flurry of text messages later, and the reason, it transpired, was that he'd had a heart attack while training for a marathon. Apart from the obvious justification we felt for our general view on the dangers of excessive (read "any") exercise, we were naturally rather concerned. I rang him this morning, and offered to pop round to see him in hospital: he accepted the offer, and I popped round in my clerical collar (aka "access-all-areas costume"). It turns out that it seems to have been a fairly minor one - to the extent that any heart attack is "minor" - and he was in pretty good spirits. We had a very good chat and I lent him a few DVDs.
On leaving, I found myself near Colchester centre, and at a loose end, as Moo had taken the girls off earlier in the morning to her parents, to make sure that they'd get a chance to see their cousins this weekend. I'd already had a sleep after they left, so I decided to go and watch How to Train a Dragon again: this time in 3D. Even better, I have to say, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Easter Eve vigil in the evening, watched some Blackadder Goes Forth, and headed to bed. Easter Day tomorrow!
Friday, April 02, 2010
Good Friday - family time(backposting) I wasn't involved any of the services in the team today, and Moo and I took the opportunity to spend some family time. A number of options presented themselves, but we ended up going to see How to Train a Dragon at the Freeport Cineworld. We decided against the 3D version, because the girls - Miri in particular - really struggle with the glasses, and just take them off, so we went with the standard 2D version.
What a great film! Funny, exciting, good plot, fun characters, and brilliant animation. Something for adults (who came up with the line "breast-hat"?), lots for kids. Just a great time. That's the sort of family film we like to watch. Only really annoying thing was why all the adults had Scottish accents, but none of the kids did (and if you're going with Vikings, why Scottish, anyway?). But great fun, nevertheless.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Stripping the altarsWe had an agape meal this evening in church, followed by the stripping of the altars. It was strange getting into a very different frame of mind - I had a busy day at work, and then did the girls' bedtime - but by the end of the service, I was, as last year, very moved by the ceremony. It was also lovely to have Sally there.