Wednesday, 29 December 2010

One last look

The thaw has set in and we have fog and the usual dampness - so here is one last look the wonderful winterland we had for Christmas.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Be Still

As if on cue, the snow is making a rapid exit with all the visiting relatives, food and excitement of Christmas day. We have escaped to the south coast and younger son has gone to visit friends - stopping off to surf on the way. The snow added a special magic to the celebrations. We were rather apprehensive about driving to church for the Midnight service as the temperature was dropping to minus 8 and the roads were like a skating rink. In other circumstances (before The Curate was a curate) I think we would have stayed at home but with The Curate taking the service, this was not an option. But the snow made it wonderful - deep and crisp and even to put it literally. I think The Curate learned a lot from this solo experience - about how lonely it can be out front - with no choir or readers. The church was pretty full, people had braved the ice and snow- many whom I did not recognise. The Curate found it hard going to get responses - and NEVER have sung responses if there are a lot of visitors and no choir to lead - painful!
I ended up going to the village hall service with The Curate on Christmas morning and there was a congregation of ten which made a very friendly, meaningful service. I really had all my preconceived ideas of a village hall service thrown out of the window and  enjoyed the experience. After the service, we stood and looked across the fields at the frost sparkling on the snow in the sunshine - it was beautiful. 
And so, both The Curate and I enjoyed this Christmas. I managed to crack my apprehension of reading in church and I feel that I am able to take part more in church life. Perhaps knowing that we will probably be somewhere else next Christmas, and that we will be living in one place and living a life centred on the Church, is strangely reassuring.
Our eldest son joined us for lunch ( thanks to the laptop and Skype) and we were able to talk and share the sight (but not the taste) of our Christmas pudding with his Australian girlfriend.We were able to show them the sun and snow outside and they were able to show us the rain in Paradise Waters.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas To Everyone - may it be a peaceful and very happy time for all.

It's Christmas Eve

This is the busiest time for many clergy, particularly those who have several churches under their wing. Everyone expects a service in their own church and many people do not want to travel - and this year it is made worse by the treacherous conditions of our pavements and roads. Spare a thought for the clergy who will be travelling between churches trying not to appear rude as they rush off to their next service even before most people's after service coffee has been poured. The Curate and I know of several clergy in this situation - with rural mission communities growing larger. The mission churches can be separated by some distance - and even if the distances are not great, the route is often along narrow, winding lanes . The narrow country roads do not lend themselves to speeding - even when there is no ice on the roads.
But there is no getting away from it - this is an exciting time. The Curate has a relatively quiet time compared to other curates that he trained with. Other than the sermon at the midnight service, his main service on Christmas day will be in a village hall where there is a very small congregation -and sometimes no congregation. He is not sure what to expect. How many people will venture out in this icy weather? Will others prefer to join a larger congregation down the road at the larger church? I am going to walk up the village church in the village where we live and maybe The Curate will join me there when he has finished. Not living in the parish where The Curate is attached has its disadvantages and advantages. I suppose I never feel I belong anywhere especially as I am only living on the North Coast part time. It reminds me of the times of being a Forces wife and the need to just get on with life however lonely and disconnected you are feeling. My thoughts and prayers are with all those families who are apart at this festive time.
 News update!
Telephone has just rung and it is The Boss (Vicar) to say neighbouring vicar has lost his voice - The Curate has won the whole of the midnight service. The readers have flu so I have won the reading. In at the deep end.
Telephone has just rung and it is the possible New Boss to arrange a meeting with The Curate to discuss the option of moving to his parish - nearer where I work.
It's all go today - The Curate is now embedded in his study for the day.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Classy Snowmen

Have you noticed that the traditional snowman is getting a face lift this year. I have seen pictures of snow men sitting on park benches and other original creations. We have a very large snow dog in a car park near us. In the spirit of the season I attempted a snow girl for our front garden. Not as easy as you would think - she has been snowed on and started to thaw so she is looking a little odd now. The Curate got quite carried away and suggested we should add wings from ice on frozen puddles and turn her into an angel.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


This is a super fast version of the Nativity Story - very clever.
I have sat through several carol services with the Nativity being central to the service. Despite the story being the same, the interpretation by each school has been different. All the shepherds and angels have had unique charm and several have given impromptu performances that only add to the audience enjoyment - and their parent's embarrassment.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Public property

Now here's a thing. Why does everyone in the congregation think they know me and some greet me like a long lost friend when they see me? I struggle to remember people's names and struggle to keep my private life private - although The Curate would insist in including anecdotes from our family life in his sermons until I told him to stop. If I do recognise these people, it is often because they have been pointed out to me as people to be careful around. It is a strange life that we have joined. I mean who do you class as friends and who is only talking to you because you are with The Curate? On other occasions I can be standing next to The Curate and you would think I was invisible the way I am ignored. It all takes a bit of getting used to.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

We have snow.

We have had several centimetres of snow overnight and the beach looks amazing. The dogs loved their morning walk and yet again, it felt good to be alive! Of course, I do not have to travel anywhere and second son made it home yesterday afternoon. Both The Curate and I are feeling quite reassured that a move later in the year is the right thing for us. We are so fortunate to be able to experience living here - especially when it looks like it does today, but we know that in order to survive, we need to experience church life together.
The snow does cause some difficulties if you happen to have hairy legs!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas trees - again!

I think that a psychologist would probably have something to say about my choice of Christmas tree - it's black and I love it. I have always had a real Christmas tree until last year - with traditional red, green and gold decorations. But then - I had always lived in an old house until last year. I sure the psychologist would say that I was trying to make a mark and trying to resist conforming to the mould of Curate's wife. I had contemplated having one of those upside down Christmas trees but decided that was a step too far. Try googling 'unusual Christmas trees' - there are lots of ideas for something a bit different. The Christmas tree made up of beer / wine bottles was tempting to copy but The Curate put a stop to that!
  I also have a traditional tree in the dining room which is full of decorations that my sons and The Curate and myself have gathered up from around the world. The boys groan when I remind them to look for a tree decoration if they are travelling anywhere.As I dress the tree I think of them in past years being in Australia, Nepal, Bahrain, Canada and other far off places. As I write, my eldest son is packing up his apartment in Dubai to head off to Australia for four months. I shall remind him to look out for a Santa surfing decoration when we next talk. Thank goodness for Skype it makes the world a much smaller place.
 We also have a lovely Nativity scene in the hall which we start to assemble after the first advent candle is lit. The terracotta figures come from Italy (where my sister lived for a bit) and Gibraltar (where we lived for a while).My younger sister and I have both painted the figures - so I think of her and her family as I set the crib up. All my family will be together on the east side of the country this Christmas, except for us as The Curate is working.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Coincidences and we're off!

 In our exploring of possible parishes we visited a church last Sunday that was very interesting. We decided to slip into the Sunday morning service - I'm not sure we were supposed to explore that much - but we felt it was necessary.There was a very strange coincidence with two of the hymns being particularly relevant for The Curate and myself. We had had both hymns at our wedding. One of these hymns, Lord Jesus Christ You have come to us, has followed me from college, to schools I have worked in and always seems to be sung at relevant times - hence the reason for having it at our wedding and The Curates ordination. We had also read it with the Bishop when we were trying to sort out a way forward. So the skeptic in me said that it was a set up! But when the second relevant hymn was announced I began to feel that God might just have a hand in our next move. 
The world suddenly seemed to get smaller as we found links to this particular church that were unexpected. It could be that The Curate and I might be going to live further away from the sea than we ever have done. It will be an interesting experience as I am pretty sure all our family have salt in their blood. The DDO's visit confirmed that she had spoken to the vicar and he was happy to have The Curate to complete his training. They need to meet again, the house will be an interesting challenge and needs work done on it before we can move in. So we probably will not be able to move until the summer - just when the surf's getting up here.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Watch this space

This afternoon we have a visit from the DDO about a possible move. We have no idea what's the right thing to do. Perhaps all will be clearer this afternoon - but being unsettled like this is doing The Curate and I no good at all. This should have been a time to relax and enjoy the holidays together. We are both aware that this is not the time to say the wrong thing........

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Third Christmas Tree festival in three weeks.

It was the turn of my parish church on the south coast to host a Christmas tree festival this weekend and it was the best of the three I have seen this year. Although only a small church, there were plenty of bushy real Christmas trees decorated by local organisations or businesses. This time they each had to use a Christmas carol as their theme. I think the best tree I have seen was by our local plumbers - Bill Burnard and son. It was decorated with polished pipe fittings, shower flexi pipes, glass water droplets, taps and snow flakes. The carol was -In the Bleak Mid winter - Brilliant!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

It's the Christmas Holidays and another working weekend.

 It's the holidays for me - yes I finish really early - we had school Christmas productions in November. We finished with a lovely carol service in the church with year 2 creating a nativity scene during the service. The two children in year 2 that I work with were very good - considering one had refused to do anything initially. The fact that I work doesn't seem too bad now because The Curate and I have three weeks together. These should be in one place, but we have now spent our last three Friday's (our weekend) 'exploring' possible places to move to. We know the road between the two coasts extremely well now.  So, what with very busy Saturdays and Sundays for The Curate, we are both feeling extremely tired. The Curate is on a day's training course today so I am desperately trying to get all the presents bought and get the house down south ready for our return on Boxing Day. The Curate has been asked to 'explore' another church tomorrow which is all a little stressful but exciting as well. I hope that God will guide us to make the right decision - even if this means that The Curate ends up staying in his present parish. He does like it  - it's just that he is supposed to be married to me....and I am not there.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


The Curate is in the process of exploring a possible parish move so that he is nearer to where I work. Our Bishops have shown caring concern and understanding of the difficulties of me continuing to work while The Curate completes his training. I constantly ask myself if I am being selfish but I enjoy my work and hope that I am making a difference to those children who struggle with literacy. But, back to The Curate - the Bishops gauged his 'churchmanship' by asking about his attitude to vestments in church. I guess if he likes dressing up he is 'high church' and vice versa.The Curate is not really into gold braid and lace as he came to Christ late in life. He found nothing that connected him to the 'High' churches I had been going to. It was the reality of the message he heard in the Gibraltar Methodist church and what it meant to his life that attracted him. Robes just didn't do it for him. So I had to laugh when I found the blog - Bad vestments. Do you feel that vestments are essential or are they a barrier between the vicar and the people? What do you think? I am very open minded and think there probably is a place for their use at certain times. Why are vestments worn in churches?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Not ashamed

The Not Ashamed campaign provides an opportunity for Christians across the UK to stand together and speak up for the Christian foundation of our nation, motivated by the conviction that Jesus Christ is good news not just for individuals or for the church but for society as a whole. Indeed, He is the only true hope for our nation.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas Trees Galore!

The weekend is over and I have returned to my other job down south. What a busy weekend for everyone - not a lie in to be had as The Curate was busy  at 'Men's breakfast' on Saturday and early communion service on Sunday. This meant I won the dog walking duty for two days which was not too bad although bitterly cold. I'm sure it was the healthy option but I would have liked to stay under my duvet for a little longer. Now I'm back to my normal week day 6.30 start - we do not have the snow to stop this. 
Christmas came to our church with our first Christmas tree festival. It was lovely to see the church looking festive when it was so gloomy outside. There were lots of visitors and many attractive trees from the different local organisations. I'm not sure how many in total but all the classes from the local school decorated a tree. The most moving and shocking tree was the tree from the charity that supports the children from Chernobyl by providing holidays here in the UK. The contrast of the dead tree next to all the festive trees was very thought provoking. On Sunday,The Curate was aware of the poignancy of this tree being right next to the Communion table.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Stop - I want to get off.

I want my old life back - the life before The Curate became a curate. I want to live in our own house. I want to have weekends again. I want our life to be private again. I don't want to share my husband with everyone else in the church. How selfish does that sound? How can I ever be a curate's wife if I think like that?