Sunday, 2 November 2014

Community, unity, discernment and friendship

I've pressed the 'pause' button on Greenbelt ABC ( long as it's completed by the time the next festival comes around...) : partly because RL as they say, looms large just now, Mr GP's mother died several weeks ago and we have the funeral tomorrow. It's been quite hard to concentrate on much else. Also, might as well blame my INFPishness....aka tendency to flit around from metaphorical flower to metaphorical flower,  all too easily distracted by the new and shiny.  That's my excuse, anyway.

So it was last week as I struggled to respond to a questionnaire generated by our church. To give some background here: our  community has reached, if not the end , certainly a pause in what's been a long  rebuilding project, inspired by a major discernment on the part of the congregation some seven or eight years ago. Now it's time to rest, take stock, reflect and pray about where, we as a community are being called to be and to do in the coming years. Hence some points for us all to ponder before an opportunity to meet together to pray, discuss and begin to discern in a few weeks time. 

So it was not altogether serependitious (speeling!) that in the same week I stumbled across not one, but two words I'd not known  before, both relating to the outworking of community: Gemeinshaft, via The Love that Moves the Sun's reflections on Unity and Community, and Gelassenheit from an old blog post of Radref's intriguing thoughts on whether some aspects of contemporary Christian spirituality plays down close friendships in favour of community life.  

Oh - the joys of the blogosphere, when you discover  unexpected treasures like these that set your thoughts off on a whole new track! Even if none of this got translated into the rather woffly response I sent in. Though this brought about another revelation: After a lifetime of thinking I express myself better in writing than verbally, I think the opposite might be true now. Maybe I'm developing wisdom along with the grey hairs. Plus an ability to look out beyond the level of my own navel.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (7)

S - Susan Sayers - (See D). Silent Eucharist, courtesy of Luminous.
      Showers and Sinead O'Connor - though not,  thank goodness, at the same time. Though given           the       volume, you could easily have heard her from the wash block anyway. One of the perks of                   volunteering is free entrance to the showers. The ability to be able to  stand on one leg              whilst                getting dressed whilst          simultaneously attempting  to stop your clothes ending up in a soggy        heap on the cubicle floor is recommended. [Gremlins strike again!]

T - TSSF: (See F)

       Tortoise -  Yes, that's right, a tortoise, accompanying its human during the Silent Eucharist. I do        wish I'd had my camera handy! Did it go up for a blessing, I wonder?

        T-Shirt -  Just as well I didn't have my camera handy. Some of us suit volunteer T-shirts, some            of         us don't. I don't. Make a great extra layer on those chilly evenings, however.

        Tent: You've heard quite enough about Darth Vadar MkII already, so I'll spare you any                       more.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday Trivia - Zap those Monsters!

Image courtesy of Ambro

I've just been reassuring Daydreamer that she needn't worry; those antibacterial sprays really do kill 100 % of all known bacteria - and some.  If you're a Time Lord...or a time Lord's companion....or a Time Lord's companion's pupil (IRL the safeguarding authorities would have freaked out in a big way) that is. Oh, and if you happen to be on the moon and are being attacked by a giant spider. 

You can tell it's a Friday afternoon, can't you?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (6)

P - Pre Festival. See Arrival and Codeine

Q - Queues. Other than for the ladies' loos, there didn't seem to be many this year. Unless you count those needed for moving on and off the site, which, mercifully I missed as I arrived during build week.

R - Suggestions, anybody?

Chez Greenpatch Pre-Greenbelt

Monday, 6 October 2014

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (5)

M - The Mount.  One of Greenbelt's worship venues. 2014 was the third year I've volunteered with this team. We've gone through various changes of name and locations: We were Sanctuary in 2013 - and what a sanctuary it was - tucked away  near the top of the grandstand buildings in Cheltenham. Oh the joy of having a warm, dry place to retreat to! The year I joined the team in 2012, we were 'Eden,' an outdoor venue tucked away in what used to be stables at the edge of the racecourse. 'The Mount,' was...a mount, literally. Well, a man-made mound, with spectacular views out over the festival village. Not that easy to get to, (definite acessibility issues there), but a sanctuary of a different kind, with so many analogies with our faith journeying.

Mud. No, not these gentleman.  Mix rainy Bank Holidays, rolling fields and the tramp of thousands of pairs of wellie boots and the result is kind of inevitable.

N. Nadia Boltz-Weber. Greenbelt stalwart and Lutheran Pastor like no other Lutheran pastor I've ever seen. Not that I know any others. You can see her in action here. One day I will get to one of her talks, although she did do a spot for the Volunteers' welcome and briefing, which was a huge improvement on the usual fare.

O. Orpheus.  Way way down in the Underworld - The Mount's mirror opposite, home to a labyrinth and other installations which I never got round to visiting. More on its history here.

Mud, mud, glorious mud. That Tuesday morning feeling.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (4)

I - Ice-cream.  I thought I'd recapture that Greenbelt vibe this afternoon in Oxford with one last squidgy cone with flake.  Alas - it wasn't to be; the machine, which had worked perfectly up until then, broke down, leaving me the perfect excuse to get myself a Cadburys at the station thinking that maybe said machine had the ability to read my cholesterol levels.

J - Jesus Arms  - Greenbelt's pub, meeting place and venue for the infamous 'Beer and Hymns.'  The other drinking hole is the Blue Nun Wine Bar - back on site after a couple of years in exile.  In the new, more compact layout of the festival village, the JA is conveniently situated next to mainstage and food traders.  I only made it over there a couple of times this year; the terrain thereabouts bearing a passing resemblance to a lunar landscape, (wasn't sure if the bumps and lumps were compacted molehills, cowpats or rabbit holes!). My mainstage visits, apart from Sunday's Communion service  weren't intentional, more a case of catching whatever was on whilst en route to loos or  to fetch my tea, but I did manage to catch some of Sinead O'Connor on one evening and the great Folk On. (Not playing together, obviously!)

K - Can't for the life of me remember what I'd intended to put here.

L - Loos! What can I say....When one or more Greenbelters are gathered together, the conversation  turns either to the weather or toilets: old, new, state of the facilities therein, length of queues, location of, the dreaded long-drop loos from way back in the Good Old Days of Dene Park, Castle Ashy and Knebworth (Cue chorus of Monty Pythons 'Four Yorkshiremen').  No cosy, warm, civilised Ladies and Gents with hot water and hairdryers handryers as we enjoyed at Cheltenham, softies that we were. "Luxury! Why...I remember...."

Is this  Dr Who's Tardis? No - it's a scenic view of Utility Point Six

Monday, 22 September 2014

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (3)

F - Franciscans - There on the campsite, the brown-robed First Order brothers and sisters and in the resources area where the Third Order, of whom I'm one, had their stall.  The former, and more recently members of other religious orders, have been a calming  presence at Greenbelt for many years now.

Facebook - Like Marmite again; Greenbelt has several groupings on the dreaded Facebook. I find them a mixed blessing. Great for getting practical information on the nuts 'n bolts of the festival,  to have fun, and to make new contacts. It's good to have some familiar faces to look out for once you're there on the campsite. It's useful to have a place where you can feedback post festival, too. The downside, and I guess this applies on all social media, is that arguments can get extremely intense, misunderstandings can blow up in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it's better to 'Travel light' and take a break.

G - The Grove  - A woodland, sylvan area by the lake. One of the sister venues to the one where  I was volunteering, it had a similar, contemplative vibe, with a more eco feel to it. I didn't actually get to any of the events there, though from what I saw on the programme visitors there spent much time being At One With the Soil (as indeed we all did by the time Monday's rainstorms arrived).

Glamping - At the beginning of the festival I cast many a supercilious glance across at this encampment of luxury yurts.  By the end, the thought of forking out a small fortune to have access to hot water, cooking facilities and your own private block of loos seemed  entirely justified!

H - Higgedy Pies. Mmmmmm!

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (2)

D - Duck poo -  If you worked  on The Mount you may have an inkling of what I'm rabbiting on about. If you didn't, just don't ask!

Dave Tomlinson -  (See Bad Christian's Manifesto).

Dawn Service - Forget the big Communion do (waits for divine thunderbolt to descend), my highlight of the weekend was the early (yawn - so early) pilgrimage of worship through the campsite, led by Susan Sayers, with help from her small grandchildren. Simple, profound, no props, just bringing ourselves. And I know that the moment when we climbed the Mount, saying  the Gloria antiphonally, then came out onto the summit before facing East, West, North and South to pray for ourselves, the festival and the world will stay with me, and from the looks of it - many other campers, for a long, long time.  A truly 'Golden Moment,' as an old supervisor used to say.

E  - Early Curfew - The section of the campsite where those with small children and those, like myself who prefer their late nights peaceful but who don't mind being woken up by the chirruping of little ones hang out.  (Saves packing an alarm clock).  This was my third year there. It's an ongoing dilemma in my case, whether the trade-off of less noise (and less company) as against the longer distance from the festival village is worth it. I must admit, I hesitated this time round. We'll see.

Festival Village from the Mount

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Greenbelt ABC - Travelling Light (1)

Hello again. Yes, I these days of instant communication, this must be one of the latest Greenbelt Festival write-ups ever. And it gets better! I'll be posting in instalments, so with luck you may be fully in the picture by Christmas. 

On the other hand, I may have forgotten exactly what happened by then.  Enjoy

A- Arrival.  Just don't ask! Arrival this year was particularly gruelling given the long long walk from reception to car park and on to the campsite. On a lighter note - as a volunteer, you   arrive  during build week several days earlier than general public (I refuse to call them 'punters!)  It's one of my favourite times, watching the festival take shape around me. Depending on how early you are, the infrastructure - water, signage, pathways, food stalls  may not yet be in place, which holds its own challenges. Of course there are perks; for nearly two glorious days I shared our section's block of portaloos with just two other people and there's nothing in the world more glorious than falling asleep to a chorus of sheep baa-ing, cows mooing and owls hooting.   

B  - Boughton House in Northamptonshire, one of the Bucculeuch estates, Greenbelt Festival's new            home. 

       Backache - Enough said. See C for codeine.

      Big Sing - With the Wild Goose Resource Group.  Always a highlight and a delight.

       Bunting -My collection grows every year. I love prettifying my tent with chintzy florals and                fairy lights, even thought my new tent this year was more of the Goth persuasion.

       Bad Christian's Manifesto - reinventing God with Greenbelt stalwart - Dave Tomlinson.

       C -  Communion. I'm never quite sure what to expect from this one. Sunday's mass, open-air              worship         is like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it.  Hats off to the organisers though -        what a project to have to pull off year after year.    Read one  Mystery Worshipper's take        on          this year's service.  No, as you ask, it's not Greenpatches in disguise.

        Cumbrian Sausages. My favourite food stall and offers  best value for money for your                       volunteer vouchers. It also provides endless innocent amusement and an ideal photo op. One               youngster posing next to their 'Giant Sausage,' billboard said that he'd found a photo of his                   father taken next to the self-same notice many years previously!

Greenbelt 2014 - all set up in Early Curfew
[What on earth's happened to the formatting? Gremlins, I tell you!]

Friday, 15 August 2014

Epitaphs and Inscriptions - Update

That was a surprise. There's been a   postscript to my postscript about Bill Lobban, who died in 1975, whilst trying to rescue another walker from drowning in  Loch Lomond . Go through to my first link to read a comment by a member of the family. What a small world - made even smaller by the wonders of modern communication. Definitely one of the more positive aspects of the internet, this one.  Memories, too of our walk along the same route nearly three years ago. Below are some shots from our travels that day, from Rowardennan to Ardlui along the Eastern shore of Loch Lomond.  Photos 9 and 15 show the cairn and inscription that commemorate the life of a true hero.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Travelling Light? The Saga continues

Gaze into the cavernous interior of Dark Vadar Mk II in wonder,  for it is He.  My order for DV Mk I was  cancelled, due to lack of stock. Trust me to plump on a model that seems to be rarer than hen's teeth! So, back to the drawing board...aka phone and laptop as I called up the firm who supplied me with the lamented but not yet late Amorphous Green Caterpillar.  In the end I plumped for a size down from my first choice, which is just as well, given that in the event of a repetition (please no!) of the Great Greenbelt Flood of 2012, I could probably have  housed half of the campsite in it. Customer service couldn't have been better. The chappie on the other end of the phone, shot downstairs to set aside one of the only 2 tents left, I did the needful and lo and behold, my new toy was with me so quickly I'd hardly time to say "Sewn-in groundsheet." Was I thrilled!

We'll draw a veil over my first attempt at pitching it in the back garden. Those who know me on the dreaded FB will have had more than enough of the gory details. Suffice it to say, I managed to extend the official pitching time of 7 minutes into 2 1/2 hours. Never mind, weather permitting, I'll be having a couple more practices before The Big Day. I've quite a record to beat.

Of course what pitching time doesn't include is all the arranging of gear, prettifying and prinking. Cue much weeping and wailing on my part. As I said, DV II is from the Goth school of tentery (is there such a word?) and I don't do Goth. So sorry DV, I'm not about to waste the pile of lovingly sewn  bunting and solar-powered fairy lights I've accumulated over the last few years, nor my favourite woolly caterpillar blanket. Tough. My  challenge is to transform the dark interior into something light and airy with the minimum amount of effort and expenditure. 

Mind you there was slight confusion in church this morning when somebody who'd   seen my  photos expressed surprise on seeing me there. They'd been under the impression that GB had already begun. This happens sometimes, as unlike many people, all my holiday posting on social media is always after the event. I don't have, nor do I intend to have a smartphone. No, as I blogged earlier, I have a brick. Turns out in my favour as it happens; I gather from the grapevine  that it's  possible that with limited mobile coverage on site, those   bog standard phones minus internet, bells and whistles may work more efficiently than their power greedy more sophisticated cousins. Isn't it  great to be at the cutting edge of technology  for a change? 

Personally, I think we'd  all  be far better off communicating like this.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Travelling Light? Greenbelt 2014

Farewell, Amorphous Green Caterpillar?

Yes, it's that time of year again.  Nearly time to rake out the volcano kettle,  solar-powered fairy lights and all those other home comforts  needed for a week at Greenbelt Festival. (Theme this year - Travelling Light.)  So - I'm celebrating the move to a new venue at Boughton House by buying a new des-res. Yes, due to a combination of logistics, changing regulations and my wonky back, I've been forced to say a (temporary?) farewell to the famous Amorphous Green Caterpillar, (pictured above).   From what I can see in the ads, the new Maison  Greenpatch, is smaller on the porch space, roomier in the living area, and has the overall look of Darth Vadar on a good day.  Hardly travelling light. Never mind, the miserly thrifty Franciscan in me is  rather pleased at having paid exactly the same for it as I did for the AGC four years ago. I do love a good sale! 

  Of course, Darth Vadar is blissfully unaware that he's going to be wearing a large green tarp and will be liberally bedecked with twinkly lights and chintzy bunting. I've drawn the line at running up some frilly curtains. A chap has his dignity to maintain, after all. 

To return to this year's festival theme, there's been much much twittering, of the non-twittery kind on social media about some of the seeming drawbacks of what looks to be an idyllic greenfield site. No solid buildings (goodbye warmth, hot water and 'proper' toilets), hello chemical loos for all.  Worse, the prospect of a weekend with limited mobile phone signal and internet coverage. There has been weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth at the thought of not  being constantly 'connected,' and much to-ing and fro-ing between the 'How Can We Possibly Exist?'  and the 'You're all Softies...Why I Remember Back in The Good Old Days,' brigades.  Myself, I'm slightly concerned that I may miss meeting up with some of my usual contacts, but am secretly rather pleased at being on a level footing with everyone else. No tweeting with my old brick of a phone. I'll need to try out some other means of communication. What about semaphore? I knew that spare bunting would come in handy one day.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Journal 52 Week 23: Passion

Hello, I'm back again. Has it really been that long? Yes it has. Oh well, "A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone," as good old Isaac Watts once said. Since I last appeared here I've visited New York, Dorset and the South Coast, with various perambulations round the Home Counties between times. I've also -  together with GP son  - spent 12 hours lurking in a layby in the wilds of Hampshire, but that's another story.

Procrastinator that I am, I've rather too many "Roundtuits," lurking on my To Do List; I'm  rather good at not doing what I should be doing, as opposed to Doing What I Shouldn't Do. That's included my Journal 52 prompts, much dipping in and out here, with the emphasis on the 'out.' Here's Week 23: Passion. What's your passion? What really fires you up? It could be to do with a hobby, friends, family, your work...anything. I thought a long time about this and decided that for me it's Creativity...making connections....that 'spark,' (Divinely inspired?) when an idea takes off into something you'd never anticipated, often   something quite ordinary is  imbued with   a whole new meaning, a new energy. I love it too,  when I can enable   other people to discover this energy for themselves.  Watching somebody growing deeper in their faith , discovering how their story fits into God's is something so special.

If this all sounds a wee bit too airy-fairy, please note that I'm liable to come over all uneccessary and excited about the daftest things, like being able to dry the washing outside in this lovely sunny weather we've been having lately. Or, about Daydreamer's handy domestic hints: she's already saved me £££s in dry cleaning costs. Thanks!

The picture is a work in progress. I've not done any written journaling on it yet, nor will I, probably,  but as I've been blogging I've realised just what I  want  to add for the finishing touch...another of those Divine 'nudges,' do you think?

Friday, 25 April 2014


 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Matthew 11

St Beunos Jesuit Spirituality Centre in North Wales, one of my favourite retreat places has just brought out a couple of videos. Here's one: The Silence and the Light, (tech gremlins won't let me post the film for some reason) and a second, very helpful meditation on The Examen.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Cycles of Circles

Good morning. Pausing to look at my stats just now, (pure procrastination here; I should be busy getting the house shipshape for a weekend guest), I noticed - not for the first time -  that my most frequently visited post seems to be 'Going Round in Circles.'Goodness knows why. I'm not flattering myself that every visitor is greedily  drinking in my words of wisdom ; I suspect that a fair proportion of readers are of the bearded men in raincoats clutching tins of pork luncheon meat variety, but I think these last were genuine.  It's quite a thought, though, isn't it ? 'Going round in Circles,' or even...Going Round in Cycles: not unlike my own spiritual state at the moment: Much wandering  hither and thither in a somewhat circuitous and wobbily manner; coming back, setting off again. As Antonia reflects in my last post, it's as if Easter tells us that we're all recycled works of art. I've no idea what the process next holds for me, (though one thing's certain, I'll not be donning lycra and helmet any time now) but it gives me hope.

GP dogs now  taking up the circles theme - time for walkies.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Recycled Art

Belated Easter Greetings to everyone. Here's the latest of my contributions to the Journal 52 project:  Week 16 -  'Recycled Art,' an opportunity to  re-use all those bits and  pieces you have lying around the house to create something...well...let's just say 'different,' in my case.  I've used  an old paper bag, gold foil from our Easter eggs,  magazine pics and designs  and some  flowery material from one of the jars of jam we bought at the weekend's food festival.  The purply starry  bit on the right hand side is from a prompt a few weeks ago that didn't work out.

The result?  Hardly in the Van Gogh league, but never mind, it was fun to do!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

To the Rescue

Just popping in to show off our two bundles of joy. GP dog II, (the fluffy one), is growing more confident by the day; she's a real comic, with a character all her own. So different from the timid little creature that came to us in December. That said - the two foster famililes she'd been with previously had worked wonders; without their hard work we'd not have been able to get nearly as far as we have  with her. We've gone down two routes with our dogs: the pedigree  route with GP dog I. We were very fortunate there - he came from a reputable, loving, dedicated breeder, who  unlike some, loved her dogs like children, had their best interests -  not commercial gain - at heart and wouldn't for a moment have let her precious charges go to anything but a good home. 

Come GP dog II, we went down the rescue path and began to learn about some of the horror stories behind the murky world of back street breeders, puppy farms and internet dealing. Fluffy dog we hope, may be one of the least damaged ones, relatively speaking. Relatively, because although we know little about her past in detail, we do know from the rescue that for the first four or five years of her life she was used for breeding. If you can imagine being taken from your mother, held down, forcibly impregnated, kept in disgusting conditions with little food, water,  medical attention, no kindly human contact and made to churn out litter after litter of puppies. Rinse and repeat for the first half of your life, only to be 'disposed of' once you're no longer in fit state to be of any more economic use. And we'd best not go into details about what exactly 'disposal' entails.  

Enter the organisations who rescue the 'lucky' ones. Fluffy dog was quite unusual, I think, in that she was discovered to be pregnant whilst she was in rescue, so was able to have her final litter in a proper, loving home environment. (Not ours, I might add - think our cat might have packed up and left home if he'd been faced with four little fluffballs!)  So far so good, she's not as yet suffered any major health niggles, as so many rescue pooches do, sadly. And, though not perfect (what dog ever is?), she seems to be remarkably free of behavioural problems. Sadly, that's not always the case. 

'Our' rescue drew our attention to another little rescue dog - Susie-Belle. She even has her own blog: Susiefoodie where you can read her story and learn more about some of the work being done to try to stamp out the puppy farm trade. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

First Day of Spring - Summer Dreaming

Ah me...just been taken back 40 years or more: Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, courtsey of 'Carsick' FM. Memories of a school production of Shakespeare's play when I was in my early teens: flowing robes (white sheets) ;  rags in my hair every night to achieve that Grecian ringlet effect (not so much fun having to walk past the nearby boys' school with Violet Elizabeth style curls!)No speaking part for me thank goodness: I was one of several Grecian ladies whose sole purpose was to glide  on at intervals and drape themselves in  tasteful manner over a flight of steps (more sheets fixed over wooden boxes). There was a mild frisson of excitement  at one point when the girl who played Puck trod on a drawing pin mid-speech yet continued - dripping blood - with one foot stuck backstage whilst we tried to unstick  her. Laughs  as always at Peter Quince,  Bottom and his cronies, Titania, Oberon and the lovers,  relief at the happy ending. Above all - that magical sense of anticipation - of long Summer days, of promise and happy times ahead; that sense of common purpose when a project comes together after so much blood, sweat and tears. I've a hazy memory on one day of us  rushing  outside - still in our costumes - straight after the curtain call to line up outside the school to cheer on a visiting dignitary: (Princess Anne? Duchess of Kent?). I can't recall who exactly, it's all part of a dreamy haze now.

Such a long time ago - but however grey the day,  it only takes the opening bars of the overture for me to know that   Summer is  on the way.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Can Spring be far behind?

I do hope so. Here's the end product of our Sunday afternoon creative blast: Mr GP busy colouring in his Warhammer maps, myself messing around with colours. No prizes for guessing what the flowers in the pic are made from; let's just say you can repurpose all sorts of weird and wonderful things and that inspiration - even -  especially if it's a long time coming, can strike in the most peculiar way. For budding art journalists amongst you I only discovered the Journal 52 project a couple of days ago and signed up today. More 'Project 45,' now, still better late than never; I've decided to just dip in and do what I can manage. Today's is from Week 5: Abstract Art Inspiration, which I began and put aside earlier in the week. Amazing what you can do with a splodge of paint and an old credit card. Even more when you learn to put it aside and wait. Good practice in banishing the old 'Inner Parrot', too; this isn't the first time I've left something unfinished, wondered if it's really worth keeping and then found that when I've least expected it, inspiration strikes.  Thanks is due to Mr GP for this.  It's blimin' annoying having crayons with points that break every 5 minutes, I know, but those pencil shavings  were just the ticket.

So, on we go. I'm looking forward to trying  this next week's topic: Found poetry.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Growing Old Gracefully

Thank you Quinn McDonald for Ageing Out on the mismatch between  manners and  modern communications.  It put a big smile on the face of this Grumpy Old (ish) Woman. If I can add a few experiences of my own to the list:

 Shop assistants, officials etc begin to call you  - if you're lucky "Madam."  Note "If you're lucky...."nowadays "Dear," is sneaking its way in  , or worse - "Ducks."

In those surveys where you're asked to tick a box indicating your age - I've moved into the last but one category.  Enough said.

From a railway official recently and in all seriousness: " Madam, have you considered buying a Senior Railcard?" (!) And this isn't the first time either.

I don't know  whether to feel gratified or offended!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Catching up - Time to Talk

Another unexpected free morning  has given me the chance to catch  up on my poor neglected blogroll. I never did revive my Blog of The Week feature, did I? Shame because 'Time to Talk,' by Musings of a Clergy Child takes top place by a mile.  I've blogged before  about the old Black Dog and his many siblings and am even now trying to work through the shadow he's cast over myself and my family for more years than I'd care to remember. (The abundance of exclamations marks in my posts is sometimes a cover). So -  do read Time to Talk, if you've not seen it already.  As a relative 'oldie', N's words give me hope; that the openness of my children's generation will pave the way for kinder attitudes towards , better understanding  and banishing of shame about mental illness.

Can I tell you a secret? There’s something about me that you probably don’t know. You probably wouldn’t guess, if you looked at me. If you spoke to me, you probably wouldn’t notice. If you asked, I probably wouldn’t tell you. I don’t want you to think I’m weak, you see. I don’t want you to treat me differently from how you treat your other friends. I don’t want to burden you, or for you to pity me. 
But I’m telling you anyway. I’m telling you because it’s time to step up and step out. It’s time to start conversations. To start friendships built on something more than pretending we’re all okay all the time. It’s time to stop being British and start being real.
          To read the whole post go here.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Little Kindnesses - 10 things that have brightened my week

1. My rain hat - it has a style all its own; think Ermintrude from the 'Magic Roundabout.'
2. The passing motorist on the way home from church who found my hat, stopped and handed it back to me.
3. The station staff who stowed my hat safely away on top of a ticket machine until I arrived back from London on Monday evening.  Spot a hint of  a theme here...?
4. My spiritual director who 'suggested' that during Lent  I make sure to  do one fun activity a week for myself (totally unrelated to things   churchy,  spiritual...or rain and rainhats for that matter.) At last - a Lenten practice I can keep!
5. FGW and station staff - who've lifted peak/off peak fare restrictions during the current flooding,  been generally as helpful as possible, thus making what could have been a miserable, wet and cold experience a lot less stressful than I'd expected.  On the train home on Wednesday we miserable, soaking commuters were  even offered free hot drinks. Though given the state of mind I was then in, I could have done with a stiff gin! You'll be glad to know that I exercised tremendous restraint and refused the complimentary shortbread fingers and choccy biscuits.
6. M & S cafe in Oxford who do a very nice egg, bacon and cherry tomato breakfast bloomer at a reasonable price. (Totally non-hat related.)
7. Unexpected space on Tuesday. Not for a reason I'd have wanted but at least it gave Mr GP and myself a chance to go over to the pub. (No hats were involved).
8. The elderly friend who when interviewed by the local press refused to give them the sob story they were obviously after (her block of flats is surrounded by floodwater), telling them she was managing quite well thank you very much. They didn't quote her. Have (a rather dashing pair) of blue wellies - can travel.
9. Supervision group...just because... The assistant in BHS cafe this afternoon who agreed with me that baked beans and chips count towards part of one's Five a Day. Sometimes only chips will do.
10. Hallelujah! GP Dog 2 - who at 7.05 a.m. Thursday 13 February peed in the 'proper place,' for the first time! You have to have toilet trained a dog (or a child) to appreciate just how thrilled I was!
10 1/2 - Last but not least - Mr GP who's held the (doggy) fort at home during a week when I've been more out than in.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dave Walker - Cartoonist Extraordinaire

Something to lighten  a grey, wet January : Dave Walker's cartoons via the Church Times have brightened up my Friday afternoons for years now and his various cartoon blogs for even longer. Gentle, self-deprecating humour with a bite I call it. He has a knack of capturing those little details of life and behaviour, especially life in that marvellously unwieldy and idiosyncratic institution we call the Church and making us look at them (and us)  again...hopefully with wiser eyes - or maybe not....

If for reasons unknown you've been living on another planet for the last ten years (or simply don't read the Church Times!), meet the man behind the pen here in Being a Cartoonist a video by Michal Dzierza. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Epiphany continued...

Here they are! Our Wisepersons with their menagerie. Yes, the postponed House Blessings finally took place a week last Sunday. Don't you think that the glittery pine cone Christmas tree adds that final creative touch?

Though if we're talking creativity, I did get a teensy bit carried away. Of course the travelling magi were far too polite to mention it.  And the generous whaft of incense certainly made the house smell much much nicer than it usually does.  Makes a change from Parfum de Dog Pee...

It must have had an effect, as in a burst of yet more creativity I was inspired to take the scissors to my old school scarf  to make this  natty little jumper for GP dog II.  Just what's needed to take the chill off these frosty mornings we've been having.  Talk about creative upcycling. And there's still enough material left for a couple more outfits.  I don't agree with dressing dogs up like little toys, but like to think that our old Headmistress would have given me top marks for inventiveness.  

I guess that GP dog is relieved that I didn't save the co-ordinating scratchy, itchy powder-blue wool twinset and horrible corduroy beret. One can carry creativity too far.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Unspecified Number of persons

of a royal, sagacious, see-er-like persuasion from faraway oriental  lands who may or may not have been accompanied by camels. (a nod to yesterday's  great all-age epiphany talk which made me smile). Peter Cornelius's beautiful chorale is sung here by Winchester Cathedral Choir. Enjoy.

No visits from our Royal personages chez Greenpatches yet, however; house blessings have had  to be   postponed until next weekend.  Tch! I  don't know...I bet you the original magi weren't put off by a few drops of rain.

Though just as well they didn't take GP Dog II along for the ride.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year from the GPs and menagerie. We've waved Ms GP off on her journey back across The Pond, Mstr GP is sleeping off last night's junketings and Mr GP is upstairs on his exercise bike. No stats or year reviews from me this year; I'm too busy trying to toilet train GP dog II, now a dead ringer for a Christmas angel after her beauty treatment the other day.  Doesn't she look adorable! Do pop over to Archdruid Eileen's blog though -  to see the weird and wonderful search terms which have brought bemused cyber travellers to the Moot House door.  (Churches could do well to  take note).  I don't have  such complex analytical packages myself; the only stats I'm able to access and which I won't be making public, having to do with tape measures, bathroom scales and post-menopausal pimples caused by overmuch festive chocolate chomping. 

Right...must go....Happy New Year Everybody....." GP doggies...Wee-wees!!" (No, this isn't my Word for The Year in case you wondered...)