Category Archives: travel

Lakeland adventures

Two weeks ago we went on holiday, for a little break in the Lake District. I love this part of the country, the hills where I cut my hill walking teeth, the most beautiful lakes and pretty slate-built villages nestling amongst them. The way the Lakes seems to have its own language, with pikes and dales, tarns and gills. The hills here are unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere, and even the sunlight seems to have a different quality about it, bathing the landscape in a soft glow which makes me happy just to be a part of it.

Well for this week, that had to be enough, because on day two I woke up with an evil cold which turned out to be something more like flu in disguise. We had a really lovely walk on the first day, climbing Helvellyn via striding edge in the mist and some wind, and losing our way slightly at the start, Chris’ introduction to this ridge was not ideal but we had a great day anyway! Scrambling is fun! However, that was all I was to manage, the day after I could barely walk from the car to the nearest cafe! So the holiday turned into more of a sedate affair, resting in the mornings and then taking trips out in the car, walking to the nearest tea shop, having some nice cake and then going home again. I felt like I’d just aged 60 years! But we still got to wander around some of the nicest little towns, and rest and relaxation was enforced. And even though that was now two weeks ago, I’m only just getting over the thing, which proves that I wasn’t just being a wimp!

In other news, the wedding plans continue apace- about 3 months to go now. We had a fun hour one evening this week looking over the liturgy for the service, working out where the hymns and readings will go and looking at the vows. We’ve known pretty much from the start what hymns we would like to sing, and sorted the readings fairly easily, so we’ve not thought about the service in that much detail. Reading through the declarations and vows made it real in another way. I can’t wait to say them for real.

Our first Christmas

Several times over the last couple of weeks I’ve said to myself, ‘I must blog that’ but somehow never quite got around to it. Apparently life is quite busy at the moment. So, even if this isn’t a full on update on everything from the last month(s) that I’ve been away, I thought I had to start somewhere.

A lot of the business the last few weeks seems to have been Christmas related. When you have two families to buy for, who are further away and not so prompt with their requests, you have to start planning early. And then there’s the problem of trying to find something for each other (easier said than done!) and manage to shop separately so there’s some element of surprise. We ended up going our separate ways around department stores, and Chris doing some secretive shopping after work. And thats before we even get around to wrapping or writing Christmas cards!

Christmas this year is feeling very different than it has done before, for many reasons, but due mainly, I think, to the fact of us living together now. Last year was the first year we were together at Christmas, but we were also many hundreds of miles away in the African sun, so it was anything but a ‘normal’ Christmas. This year, we’re going to my parents, then to Chris’, with all the usual Christmas stuff, but together. And there’s the little things, like putting up our joint Christmas cards in our flat, rather than having to divide them between us like we did last year! Yesterday we bought our first Christmas tree! Not a big deal in some ways (Chris helpfully pointed out that in commitment terms it’s not really that permanent..) but in others, it feels like a milestone, that this place we live, while not being what we would like, is home, and more importantly, its ours. One slight issue is that we might have got a wee bit carried away with the size of tree, and it currently appears to be swallowing a bookcase, part of the coffee table and obscuring the TV.. hoorah for Christmas!

The other change to Christmas this year has been thinking about Advent from the point of view of a preacher, and challenging myself to see it differently. There are many aspects of Advent I find particularly meaningful and inspirational, but I can’t preach about these every year! Making myself think about new perspectives on familiar themes is one of the interesting and enjoyable aspects of Local Preaching, and Advent is a season so rich with potential that the whole process is quite exciting. The service I’m working on is this Sunday coming, Advent 3. I might share some thoughts with you once I’ve got them in place.

Bank holidays

In wanting to update everything about the sticky work situation, I have neglected to write about the lovely bank holiday weekend we had, and lovely it most certainly was. For a start, this was the first year I’ve been able to fully appreciate a four day weekend for what it is, being the first year I’ve been working full time either side! It just seemed to go on forever, despite being filled with enjoyable stuff!

I made it down to London late on Thursday night, and on Friday we spent the day with Chris’ older brother and family, chatting, eating, drinking and all that stuff. As well as a rather entertaining trip to the Natural History Museum at Tring. Think lots of stuffed animals and you’re about there. Very odd to see all sorts of animals we encountered in Kenya stuffed and behind glass. Friday evening saw us return to London to meet Never Conforming and her missus, have a nice dinner in the crypt at St Martin in the Fields, and then a trip out to Greenwich on Saturday. A good amount of time to chat and catch up on the various happenings in each of our lives, of which there seem to be many! Nice to have a few days to chew the fat when recently we’ve only had one or even just an evening.

Saturday evening some of us, along with some other friendly folkie types went to see our favourite Barnsley lass in a rather nice venue. Kate was on good form, but also well matched by the accompanying Red Skies string ensemble. Difficult to find a website for them, but suffice to say, if you get a chance, they’re worth a listen.

After Easter Sunday service at Hinde Street we headed out on our travels again, this time in the direction of Leamington Spa for Chris’ brother’s 21st birthday. One night staying in a student house reminded me just how long it was since I was one, and that single beds are definitely only made for one. On Monday, Joe’s actual birthday, we went out for a rather posh meal at a restaurant nearby. You can tell its posh when you have luncheon not lunch. But the place was quiet and sophisticated, the boys (mostly) wore jackets, and some had fun trying to decipher the menu! French speakers are handy to have around. The food was lovely, the setting very pretty, and the company wonderful. Some photos in the grounds while the sun was shining to show the gallivanting parents that their sons do scrub up well when pushed!

All in all, a jam packed but relaxed and easy weekend. A perfect introduction to the delights of double bank holidays!

Of preaching and needles

Wow, blogging two days in a row.. its almost like I’ve got free time or something. So, other things which happened this week, not course-related.

On Tuesday I went to my first Local Preachers meeting here. Scary or what? No idea what to expect, I’ve met the Super once (when he didn’t know I was me, if that makes sense!), and spoken the secretary on the phone. The minutes had a slot specifically devoted to discussing what to do with me (I paraphrase here). Interesting. The other thing which bugged me a little was the secretary insisting on using titles at all times in the agenda, therefore labelling me as Miss on at least 3 occasions. Those who know me know this isn’t smart. A little annoying, given a) he had no idea whether I was married or single, if in doubt surely even the most trad would stick with Ms? b) Miss always conjours up images of an 8 year old in a frilly dress. That or happy families. And needless to say I’m neither. Maybe thats just me. Hmm.

Anyway, the meeting went well in the end. A friendly, if not large group, of which I managed to lower the average age quite significantly! It was agreed that I could basically take on some dates planned for other preachers, and that they could then come along and observe/help out etc but basically get a day off. I think this idea went down well. There were suggestions of forming a queue. All in all, quite a positive result. Now I just have to remember this whole sermon-writing thing. Gulp.

The other thing that happened this week is I went to my GP yesterday to ask about vaccinations. I’ve not mentioned this here yet, but for Christmas this year we’re going to Africa! Chris’ parents are off on what can best be described as a gap year, travelling and volunteering in various African countries for 8 or 9 months, and are having us all (him and brothers, and me!) over to Kenya for Christmas. Like you do. So, my first Christmas away from home, not just another city, a whole different continent. Never do things by halves eh? But its all very exiting, so many new experiences all at once, but we’re doing it together, so whatever happens it’ll be good. So anyway, I thought I should get some idea of how many times they’ll want to stab me with needles before I go. It turns out not much, 3 in fact, two of which were free and could be given straight away. So in less than half an hour I was in, punctured in each arm, and out again. One more but thats lots closer to when we go, and thats it. The last time I had injections was probably school. I’d forgotten how much the upper arm hurts afterwards, the muscles just don’t like being used right now! Or lay on.

So there, it feels like its been a rather full week. And today I’m off to sunny south Wales for the proms in the park, so if you’re around there I might see you. Just don’t be offended if you hug me and I yelp!

Travellin’ folkie

Two blog posts in a week, wow I am on a roll.. Hmm, maybe not. But everything’s relative. Anyway, I’m just saying hello and I’m ok. Pretty much. This may have something to do with the fact I have one day of work left, then a holiday 🙂 To Canada for a couple of weeks with the parents 😀 This amazing trip was booked over a year ago now (I think, it feels like a long time) and after holding out for a while ‘in case I got a job’ (so we’d know something about the best time/holidays etc) we went for it. And then I got a job. Well, not quite that soon, but anyway. They have to let me go, even mid-newting, cos its booked! Hoorah!

So, we’re flying on Thursday, to Toronto, and then getting on a little (but rather impressive sounding) train that takes us all the way into Jasper, Alberta, where we then spend some time looking round, and going on trips up to pretty lakes and walking on glaciers and so on. Then we go on a bit further west and into a couple of other national parks before ending up in Vancouver for a couple of days. So when people have said where in Canada are you going, there’s not really a short answer!

I’m actually looking forward to it now. Which hadn’t happened up untill an hour or so when I started packing.. before then it didn’t quite seem real, all it was was a time when I wasn’t working. I’ve been too busy and shattered to think about it more than that. But now its starting to be real. I’ve got my stuff (more or less) packed. And found my passport. And when I finish work tomorrow I get to drive home. It will be lovely to see my parents and get to spend some actual time with them when we’re not all really busy, which we don’t get a lot of these days.

The only downside is due to my new job starting part way through the holiday year, I only have enough days for this holiday, and not really anything else. I’ve managed to swing a day off for Chris’ graduation 🙂 but we had to cancel our trip to Scotland which was a shame. But I don’t think there’s any danger of us not managing to get up there sometime. The more places I see, the longer the list of places I want to see seems to get. Maybe its easier to say where I don’t want to go. That wouldn’t take long!

Well, I might manage to pop in sometime while I’m away, but if not, I’ll see you in June!

Still going…

Ok I’m back again, after a brief interruption for a bit of a busy weekend! Friday I headed off to a rather swanky health spa type place for a day of pampering courtesy of a friend’s hen party (which someone else has blogged about in more detail, so I’ll leave it at that). A good time was had by all, much relaxing and gossiping was indulged in, and much tea (and wine) consumed. And the body massage was out of this world.. Saturday was pretty much a bit of random wanderings, and then making our way home. The weather was stunning, and the only thing that spoiled it slightly was we were in a car and not on top of the hills enjoying it. Ho hum.

The rest of Saturday afternoon once I got home was spent preparing for Sunday morning, which was my next service I had been booked in for, though not entirely legitimately if you stick to all the rules about these things. I had some helpers, and lots of people being supportive and so on, but this was still the most I’d done on my own before, and without the support of someone who knows what they’re doing all the way.. :S All in all I think it went ok. I had positive feedback, and the only things to work on I know are down to nerves and stuff, which only time will improve. In general, absolutely terrifying, but also a feeling of quiet satisfaction that I managed to get through it in one piece.

Ooh, and we booked a holiday :D:D:D Not sure its entirely sensible to be spending while hoping we’ll have more income by then, or even enough holidays. But this is necessary time together, and visiting my parents who are in bonnie Scotland at the moment, Glasgow to be precise. So there, its done. And we’re going on holiday 😀

Today, I’m not sure. Erm, I managed to not kill my employer when he rang me at 9 this morning asking if I knew I was meant to be in work. Err, no I didn’t, you’d have to tell me for me to know.. Sigh. Back to it tomorrow.

Food, wine and music.

A joint Christmas and birthday present from one aunt and uncle was a free stay for me and Chris in their flat in Paris. No way we were going to turn that down.. The bonus was that we were there for my birthday last weekend. My surprise birthday present was a meal on board the “Melody Blues” boat, with live jazz as we sailed up and down the Seine. Good food, good music, good company. Very Happy Folkie. Nuf said.

Jazz boat!!

D

Piano

Band

We’re all going on a summer holiday

So, how to summarise nearly three weeks of holidays and stuff?? Lets see…

19 days out of work, not having to think about, worry about, go anywhere near the place, or deal with problematic collegues and their issues. Just a complete break from it all, relaxing and doing whatever I chose to do 😀

Three very different types of holiday, in various different places, with different groups of people, all of whom I enjoy spending time with and many I don’t see as often as I would like to.

Two (long) weekends camping, in glorious, baking sunshine, either end of a week (not camping) in slightly less brilliant weather but with other redeeming features which compensated for the sun 🙂

Two very different but equally enjoyable festivals, one involving a lot of sitting around drinking beer and listening to folk music, and the other involving more active, brain stretching thoughtfulness, but also a fair amount of the first two as well 😉 But spending time with family and friends, chatting about life the universe and everything, feeling connected to them, to those around me (even those I don’t know), and to God. Sharing the things I enjoy with the people I love.

One week (and a little bit) away in the middle of the French countryside with Chris (and family for part of it), with a little bit of sunshine (even if he was ill for most of it) and then rather a lot of rain. But being away, from work, from internet and tv, from the rest of the world, and just being able to be together. Being forced to relax, and spending a lot of time sat in front of a log fire reading my way through a rather stonking book collection 😀

(Only) one new CD purchased, but definately well worth it!

One huge big birthday bash for a special girly mate, with many a black tie and posh dress and some rather fab music that you couldn’t help but dance to.

Countless pints of beer, and a few of cider, and rather a lot of glasses (more like bottles!) of wine…

Many nights of less sleep than needed, but kinda compensated for by the positive effects of being away from the ‘real world’ and recharging the batteries 😀

Not bad for less than three weeks. Back to normality now though, such as it is!

Destination: Anywhere

I seem to manage a blog about every month or so these days. I’m not quite sure when life got so busy, or maybe its just that I don’t feel that whats happening is worthy of sharing. I don’t know. But I thought I should pay a visit and try to get myself back into this blogging thing. I do miss it.

So anyway, whats new you ask? Thats just it, I don’t know. And when you get out of the habit of blogging regularly, you feel like you have to have something amazingly earth shattering to say or it seems like an anticlimax.

Well, I’ve had a busy couple of months running up and down the country.. feels like I’ve not really been at home properly at all! Since my last blog, I’ve had… a weekend in London with my parents, seeing the Renoir landscapes exhibition in the National Gallery, and the Watersons in the Albert Hall… a lovely long weekend in Paris, with (partly) glorious sunshine (and a fantastic thunderstorm thrown in for good measure!) and good company :D, a good mix of sightseeing and sitting around doing nowt 🙂 … and a weekend at home for my *youngest* cousins wedding! A lovely service in the Catholic Church I went to as a child, and glorious weather all day. A nice chance to catch up with the family, aside from the ‘you’re next’ comments (err, not just yet I’m not!). Add to that three trips to Birmingham for various SCM stuff, at least two (unsuccessful) job applications, a Local Preachers meeting (as a visitor, not quite that mad yet!) and a fair amount of working, and you don’t get much time leftover. Phew. I feel tired just thinking about it.

And just to keep up the trend, I’m away this weekend in Sheffield for the SCM summer gathering, where I get to hand over my responsibility (and maybe swap it for a different one..) and see this delightful (!) city for the first time. I have a feeling it won’t be the last. Day off tomorrow, I might manage to breathe a little before I go off again. I’ll try to stop by a little more regularly, feel free to prod me if I dissappear again!

Photoblog

I knew it had been a while since I blogged, but didn’t realise it had been quite that long. I tend to find that when I have a blogging break, its not due to nothing happening, but more too much, or stuff that I don’t really want to inflict on the whole world. Over two or three weeks at the end of February/beginning of march I did a lot of travelling up and down the country, the last of which was a trip to the Lake District with work (getting paid to go up to one of my favourite parts of the country and go walking. not something I had to think twice about…) The day we were actually walking the weather was terrible (of course!) but I did get some rather nice pics of Lake Windermere, since the hostel is right on the shore…

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Jetty on Lake Windermere

Dusk over Lake Windermere