Sunday, 30 January 2011

Fishy tales

The Curate and I have just escaped for a night away on the moor (in a pub - not under the stars.). At dinner, I found that I was drawn to choosing fish from the menu despite the fact that we were staying in the middle of hunting and shooting country. This is because The Curate has been conditioning me to eat fish in order to support Hugh's fish campaign. Being an uneducated fish finger fan, this has been quite a task for The Curate. I have not grown gills yet but in the last month I have tasted grey mullet, local caught cod, halibut, turbot, hand caught local crayfish, smoked Scottish salmon,  prawns, local crab, mussels, monkfish, mackerel, sardines and clams. Mostly these have been landed and sold locally and have been the freshest fish I have ever tasted. The Curate is much better at cooking fish than me so I just sit back and sip the wine while he demonstrates his prowess.  I am beginning to be able discuss the virtues of 'the bottom feeder' compared to mid water and shallow water fish!
If you haven't signed up to the Fish Fight you can click the link and read more now,

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Too late .... so business as usual until May.

I arrived on the North Coast today to find an email from a school that I had approached to ask about any possible vacancies. I wrote to all the schools when The Curate first moved up here but there was no interest from any of them. This area is awash with teachers and everyone is hanging on to their jobs with the economy being as it is. Now, when it is too late, a headteacher shows interest - and I believe I would have fitted the job like a glove. But The Curate's move has been announced in both parishes and the new curate for here has indicated that she would like to come. If this email had arrived last week - things might have been different. (We did check with the DDO).  Now I have to trust that we are on the right path and this email was a minor distraction. There is no going back now. 
The announcement in church that The Curate is leaving has had quite an emotional response and he has been touched by the comments from so many individuals. But - it is business as usual until May - we've not gone yet! 
From our garden.Snowdrops symbolize new beginnings and hope because they typically bloom at the end of winter and announce the approach of spring. They are also thought to mean 'hope in sorrow'.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

What makes a good sock monkey?

Frankenstein Monkey
Ok, it's time for a little light relief after an emotional weekend. A colleague and I have decided we ought to start a club ( and that is not so we can avoid break duties - honest). Equally we need some craft ideas for our younger church groups. With the PG Tips Monkey appearing currently on adverts and very popular, we have explored the possibility of making sock monkeys.... creatures... creations. So we googled 'sock monkey' and there seems to be a wide selection.            
   I attempted to make one from a pair of socks that had been lying  on our stairs unclaimed for a while. I forgot that socks stretch and when it came to stuffing it - it grew and grew. As this was a prototype, colour and design were not at the top of the list, I just needed to see where the pit falls in construction were. The result could be described as Frankenstein Monkey - anyway enough to frighten a child at night.                                                                                                                     
Chunky Monkey
Next came an over stuffed chunky monkey made from a small pair of children's socks. Not quite the cute, interesting monkeys I have seen on google. So before I start prototype number three - some tips and advice would be appreciated - please! What works? I want the children to be able to personalize their creature and be a bit creative.  My colleague has cheated and bought a kit from a shop which is just not the same and too expensive for all the children to buy. But I have got to come up with something that is not going to scare little children! Help please!
Monkey 3 - getting there.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Moving on

The back room boys (and girls)  have been busy at work arranging our move to a new parish. It is amazing how so many different pieces are beginning to fit together. The reality of it all hit home yesterday when the possible new curate for our present parish came to see round our house. The house will be filled with a family and that will be so much better than The Curate rattling around on his own. We are unable to see our new home as there are tenants in it but we trust that we will enjoy living there as everything else is slotting together. Of course, we both are having moments of wondering if this is the right thing to do - but we have to trust it is. The Curate is sad to be leaving a parish that has made him so welcome but he is also excited at the prospect of working in a different setting. It might take a little getting use to having to share the house full time with me again instead of me being a visitor. Who is going to do the cooking? !
  It will be a relief to be able to be open with people who have presumed we are staying for the full curacy. We have been unable to talk about looking for a move until letters had been exchanged. The date has yet to be set but it will probably be May before we actually leave. Tomorrow our move and the part time vicar's retirement will be announced to everyone in the morning service. I feel that I have failed.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A dose of daily diary writing

I have just finished reading Mark Walton-Cook's article in the Telegraph entitled, How-to-get-through-Blue-Monday. He says that the website has declared today "Blue Monday". I always thought it was next Monday that was meant to be the worst day of the year for us, as we all wrestle with post Christmas stress, bills and family problems.  Mr Walton-Cook recommends twelve 'cheap and cheerful suggestions to get you through Blue Monday'.They vary from 'give to charity' and 'get singing' to 'go barefoot ' and 'get flirty'. Finally he suggests 'write a diary' and focus on the good things in our lives.
I kept a diary for many years. It seems to run in our family and I have my father's wartime diaries recording his reaction to war being declared and his visit to America for the first time as part of his pilot training. My sister declared she had burnt her teenage diaries as they were full of such angst. I stopped writing mine for a while when The Curate declared it was anti social to write private diaries in bed last thing at night. But I still record my thoughts and feelings when I am trying to sort out how I feel about situations. Today's newspaper article prompted me to reread my writings from when The Curate decided he wanted to work full time for the church. The confusion, anger and rejection I felt are there on each page. There is a clear sense of isolation as I felt unable to talk about this with anyone. Everyone kept telling me how wonderful it was that my husband wanted to work for the Church. I guess I was ranting at God. How many times do people do this in the Bible? I am so glad I have kept these diaries as I can see the gradual change in my attitude and it's clear to me now that I wasn't on my own. I just refused to listen.

A little bit of Spring arrived in my classroom this week.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Hugh's Fish Fight - Half of all fish caught in the North Sea is thrown back overboard dead

                                                         (click link here)

Did you seen how many fish are being discarded so carelessly? Sign up now - The Curate served in the the Fishery Protection Squadron 25 years ago and he says he saw it happening then. This is not a new thing - it's since there have been quotas. - Good for Hugh!

The Curate and I have just returned from our weekly shopping trip. The Curate took somewhat longer than usual as he was engaged in a conversation with Dan our Fishman. Dan was concerned at the timing of Hugh's campaign as the cod season begins about now. 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Support for supporting partners

Am I The Curate's Wife or the wife of a curate? My heart still says I am the wife of a curate and not part of a duel ministry team offering two for the price of one. My head says that this is unrealistic and the sooner I face up to the fact that I am already a bit more than  a back room supporter the better. I have always said that the Curate was 'called' and I was 'pulled'.
Should I still be saying this?

I have read several Blogs and websites that discuss the  peculiarities of life married to a minister - some helpful and others which make you wonder who is wearing the dog collar. I have spent this evening exploring Pastors wives' thriving in the fishbowl which is American. - Is there a British equivalent? One of the most helpful books I stumbled upon very early in The Curate's training was ' We're in This Together: Living with Leadership by Celia Bowring. A list of  resources and reading material for the partners of people embarking on ministry training would have been helpful at the beginning. Perhaps there is one available and I have yet to stumble upon it. Any suggestions?

Friday, 7 January 2011

A hip and trendy vicar? Conversations in a Chip Shop

The first (short) week of term is over and I have returned to my weekly commute - and swapping from teacher to curate's wife for the weekend. I feel a lightness in my heart this week - is it because I know that this duel life may have an end date in sight or is it because I actually arrived back on the North coast in day light? The days must be getting longer (although the mornings have seem very, very black at 6.30 when I get up). 
The Curate looked tired and we decided that a fish and chip supper would restore both of us. Fish and chip shops are superb around us and when we found our local chippie shut we were not too perturbed. We decided to cross the river to buy our supper from the fish and chip shop in the pretty fishing village. We were welcomed into the small, warm shop and the owner chatted to us, asking The Curate if he had had a busy day and other small talk. It was all very convivial and The Curate hedged round the questions as it was clear that the Chip Shop owner hadn't realised that The Curate was a curate. With no slip in plastic collar and a checked clerical shirt on, how was he to know? So, feeling sorry for the Chip shop man, I told him The Curate was a curate - explaining it as an apprentice vicar. Well that was it. I thought we were never going to get our supper. At first the Chip Shop man didn't believe it  - saying "but you're so hip and trendy."!! ( On being told about this, youngest son said that the use of those terms meant that The Curate must be about twenty years out of date.) Next, The Curate was asked if he swore. To this he replied that it was quite possible that he did on occasion. Another look of disbelief, then the Chip Shop man asked if he drank. When The Curate said that he brewed his own beer I thought we might have got free chips. There then followed a long discussion on how The Curate got to be a curate and why aren't churches fun. The Chip Shop man was so surprised that The Curate had been a marine engineer prior to training ("You did have to train to be a vicar then?") He wanted to know if The Curate had to read the Bible and did any young people actually go to church? 
By this time I was beginning to think the fish must be burning and I was wondering if we were actually going to get fed. How is it that people have lost touch with vicars - or who has lost touch with whom?  But we were fed - with excellent fish and chips - and the promise that we would be seeing him again. With curious conversations in unexpected places, life certainly doesn't seem to be dull when I am with The Curate!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A sense of belonging?

2011 and a new decade has begun. Happy New year to everyone.Ten years ago we were fully involved with the village we lived in. We had just helped to organise a successful millennium village party and there was a village walk the following morning on New Year's Day. The problems of living in a rural community were offset against the safe community that the children were growing up in. As parents we all kept an eye on the what the children were up to as they roamed around the village. They were effectively trapped within the village because of the difficulties of transport but this had it advantages if they were pre driving age.( I have mentioned previously, the problems of the lack of transport in rural villages.) This sense of community was very important to us when we lived abroad, old neighbours would write and keep us up to date with the village news and there was a strong sense of belonging.
The Methodist church that we attended in Gibraltar made us feel so welcome and had a strong tradition of hospitality and community. Since then we have visited several churches abroad and felt this same welcome - where church is not just for Sundays. The Curate and I wonder if this is because the congregations are made up of people  far from home and the church becomes a real family. We always try to attend a church service when we are abroad and have been amazed by the openness and welcome we have received. So often, the services have a real sense of spirituality that comes from friends worshipping together in one place. I miss this warmth of welcome and struggle to find any sense of belonging at the moment. But maybe this is my problem and I intend to deal with it this year.