Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Secret Scripture and More

This is a novel that I think worth mentioning. I know that everybody's tastes are different but this book really impacted me. I normally only read novels in bed so it takes me quite some weeks to get through one.During the day my reading is more things like biographies, travel, spiritual, informative etc., etc. However I could not put this book down and read it in less than a week. Alan read it in 3 days and when it comes to reading he is hard to please.

Although a novel it felt real while reading and I got so emotionally involved with Roseanne, and the author's ability to have one see into the mind of an isolated 100 year old that I could feel it physically. She brings out a simlicity of life that is unimaginable these days. Although painful reading at times, it was also a testimony to the power of the human spirit and very uplifting and I did not want it to end. Added to that the story is based in the history of Southern Ireland which makes it all so much more real. The following is the cover promotion.

"The mental hospital where psychiatrist Dr. Greene works is about to shut down, and he sets about investigating the history of his patient Roseanne. She was committed there as a young woman and now - her records long lost - is nearing her hundredth birthday. At the same time, Roseanne is looking back on the tragedies and passions of her life through a secret journal: her turbulent childhood in rural 1930's Ireland, and the subsequent marriage which she believed would finally bring her hapiness. When Dr Greene finally uncovers the circumstances of her arrival at the hospital, it leads to a secret that will shock them both"
Now for a little update on life here. We have for the last week or so been experiencing some severe rain storms with gales and even higher wind gusts. Yesterday afternoon looking out of the window was like sitting in a car wash! Overnight the wind gusts are forecast for 70 m.p.h. Not so pleasant as the dark days necessitate having the lights on indoors all day. However compared with the weather in Cumbria (Lake District), we are very fortunate and have nothing to complain about.
The flooding there is causing great distress among the population whose homes and businesses are wrecked. Ten feet of flood water at its worst and bridges collapsed making everyday travel difficult. Our prayers go out to these people.
For something entirely different exciting things are happening here. Well not exciting in the general scheme of things but I am pleased. During Alan's working life as an Engineer Surveyor he was based at home and used what was originally a small 5th bedroom as an office. About 30 years ago we decided to turn this room into another bathroom and Alan moved his 'office' into our integral garage which had only ever been a store room and 'house overflow'.
At the time he placed a large formica counter on top of a filing cabinet and storage draws to use as a desk with plans to fit it properly and turn it into a long desk the length of the wall.
Did it ever happen? Well yes, a week ago and almost 30 years later! Of course having been retired now for 16 years it has made a nice working and extra storage area. So much easier to clean under too. I wonder if this is a record or do other bloggers have similar stories?
For some reason blogger is not allowing paragraphs here!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sherborne House,Gloucestershire

First Family Owner
Family group, including Mr & Mrs James Lenox Dutton. Their son, James Lenox Dutton, afterwards first Lord Sherborne and their youngest daughter, Jane Dutton who married Thomas Coke, afterwards Earl of Leicester.

This is a post I have been going to do for a long time and all that has stopped me is making the effort to scan these photos into my computer.

It's 1988 and I have driven a missionary friend to speak at a Bible study in Mississippii. Before leaving, the owner of the house and leader of the group told me that he was taking his Bible study group over to England in a few months to stay at his Father's country home there. He asked if Alan and I would like to join them for a holiday. Having consulted with Alan on the telephone we said yes.

A few months later we had the priviledge of having the group at our home for a day while they were in London seeing

Les Miserables. The following day we were meeting up with them again at the country house in The Cotswolds.

Come Monday we were driving West wondering what this house would be like and assuming it was a reasonable size as there were going to be 14 of us. When we arrived we were surprised to say the least. This is what we found.

Sherborne House from the air

The front of the house with it's church to the left ( beautiful acoustics I might add when we sang in there)

Sherborne House holds much history which would be far too complicated to go into here (I have a whole book on it) but suffice to say that this house was built on the site of a monastry and in the original Abbey Grange, Queen Elizabeth I stayed twice - in 1574 and 1592 for six days on both occasions.

Thomas Dutton was the first family owner of Sherborne

(1507-1582). Suffice to say in bringing the tale up to the present time, the last Lord Sherborne died without an heir and the estate was bought privately by 2 wealthy Americans, one of them being the Father of 'my new friend'.

The house had been turned into 19 apartments, some large and some smaller where 'my friend' let's call him John for ease of writing was able to entertain and offer English holidays to his friends and family.We had a wonderful week with our daughter and friend joining us for the last few days.

Alan on the right in the stable courtyard which was now John's Fathers personal holiday retreat.

The back yard, the Rolls Royce on the right was used to take us ladies out to dinner at a private restaurant.

The bikes we used to tour the local Cotswolds

A swim and a sauna before bed was much enjoyed

Meeting in one of the apartments for an evening Bible study

Afternoon tea in the apartment of the other owner (who actually had one wing of the house)

Real English afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, cakes and biscuits and tea served in a silver teapot.

The owners wife was a concert pianist and here she is playing for us

Another of the apartments with Jane and her friend (Jane on the left). They were actually staying with us in our apartment but visiting with the couple allocated this apartment. As a result of getting to know the couple during the week, Jane spent the following Summer (while on her university break) working as a Nanny for them in Mississippi.

This fireplace was one of the main features of the house and this room was originally a hall with a spiral staircase at the end leading up to another hall above, all now making a lovely and spacious apartment.

The other end of the room

The sitting room of our apartment. When we arrived the maid had been in and stocked the fridge with all sorts of goodies including a cooked chicken and a bottle of wine.

Our dining room

A book on the history of Sherborne given to us by John's Father as a parting gift.

There were empty pages where we all wrote messages to each other before leaving

And now I want to say what a small world it is. All this was 21 years ago and in that time John's parents had to sell the place due to ill health and it is now a very smart and expensive hotel/holiday complex. I was amazed a year ago to find out that one of my regular bloggers Linda had recently stayed here in an apartment that at the time belonged to a friend of hers. Linda is an American living in France who posts on some beautiful places in France, particularly Provence. Certainly a small world.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Where I Hang My Hat is Home

Those that have read 'my story' will know that we have always had many guests stay with us in our home, total guest book entries to date almost 600. Next week we are having a guest from Ohio who stayed with us a lot in the 70's and who I have not seen since he drove 5 hours to visit me in Kentucky in 1996. How surprised we were last week to have him call and say that he was engaged to be married to an English lady and would be in the country and would love to come and visit again along with his fiancee.

This got me to thinking of the many homes that I have stayed in over the years here in England, Europe and the USA. As it happens I am at present going through my old photo albums in order to compile a slideshow to present at our upcoming 50th wedding anniversary, so thought it would make a fun post to show some of the homes of friends that I have stayed in in America.

How I would love to show you inside some of these beautiful homes but would not dream of invading the owners privacy.



North Carolina

North Carolina

New Jersey





North Carolina

This was not truly a home but a mountain chalet in Gatlinburg

North Carolina

North Carolina







Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Shack - Review

About 2 years ago I first read this book "The Shack" and although because of the circumstances, the first part of the book was not easy to read, I was absolutely delighted with the spiritual truths written therein. I'm sure that people who have read the book, (and there are millions world wide) know that the author did not write it for publication but as a story for his children.

I know that it has been posted on many blogs over the months but I want to share here a review by Brian, a friend of mine from Kentucky. I personally think this is the best review I have read so find no need to add to it further. I hope that someone finds it helpful as this book is so steeped in controversy.

Review of The Shack
by Brian Coatney

Last year I noticed that occasionally a friend would ask me, “Have you read The Shack?” Acknowledging that I hadn’t, the next response was, “ I’m eager to hear what you think of it when you do. " My reasons for not picking it up sooner have to do with the fact that I watch old movies instead of read fiction. Just now still recovering from two glaucoma surgeries and limited in my usual reading, my wife, Tandy, began reading the book aloud, a chapter or two a day. Knowing absolutely nothing about the book, not even the central story line, I might as well have been living on a desert island, for which I’m thankful since the storm of controversy surrounding the book has just begun to filter into my awareness now that I’ve read the book.

From the beginning, both the story and the bursts of literary delight drew me in, and a cord of tension settled in that only got wound more tightly, with ever increasing intensity. I began to think, “I want to put this book down and run as far away from it as I can. ” Why? The reasons are no different from what life is: life is a series of losses and the grief we feel over them, which only mount as we awaken to the desperation everywhere around us. The book, then, though a work of fiction, does not provide the hoped for respite from life that movies and fiction can thankfully give us at times.
However, to shrink back from the dire aspects of The Shack also cuts one off from its divine ecstasies. As usual, the very nerves in our makeup that register pain also register pleasure, “and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore ” (Psa. 16:11).

The book’s approach is unconventional to say the least for a Christian work of art. The presentation of the Godhead is so unexpectedly wild and outrageous that it forces the reader to decide if such a presentation is an attack against the scripture or a creative opening up of scripture’s innermost purity and desire by God to speak to us where we are. Nothing in the book seemed to me anything more than a simple bubbling fountain of God’s very heart, so I jumped in and went with the characters.

When a reader does this, all kinds of theological warning flags might get overlooked; longstanding doctrines might even seem challenged, and I say seem. Careful inspection might turn up all kinds of knotty difficulties for debate: “ Why did the author say this?” or “ Why didn’t the author say that, or make such and such clear or clearer? ” Pretty soon, we’d have a demand for a comprehensive, doctrinal work.

This is not a slam on doctrine; doctrine is essential, and correct doctrine at that. But when experiencing The Shack, I picked up a more important consideration, that of an overwhelming beauty and truth that offers itself in such a way that the only ones who find it are those who see past what my old Bible teacher, Norman Grubb, called warts or the appearance of flesh level manifestations. Readers of the book who see through and let the suffering and the ecstasy of this book envelop them will not let it be reduced to its weaknesses or errors, either real or perceived. I’m just mischievous enough not to go into that further.

The overwhelming aspect of the book is God’s love, His forgiveness through the cross, His desire to live in us and relate to us in union with Him, and the lengths to which He will go to open up our hearts and minds to His nature and patient processes with us. These are not new themes, and the author wouldn’t even claim such. The presentation in The Shack is unique and riveting, full of rapture and poetry to recue our deepest sadness and alienation from a God who invites us into the radical outward boundaries of His limitless freedom.

Thanks to William P. Young and his fellow writers for a monumental contribution to our generation. Many vivid pictures of sublime truth have made a home in my mind and imagination forever.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cressing Temple

Again here is something a little different if you would like to join me for the afternoon looking at another bit of history in my area.

We are visiting Cressing Temple, the Medieval Manor and Barns of the Knights Templar. Those that have read the book
The Da Vinci Code will remember that the Templars were featured throughout the book.

Cressing Temple was granted to the Knights Templar - the mysterious warrior monks - by Queen Matilda in 1137.Cressing was the Knights' first grant of rural land in England and they farmed its 2000 acres until 1312, when their lands passed to the Knights Hospitaller.

The Granary dates from 1623

To establish the settlement in the 12th century, the Knights built a stone-lined well, perfectly preserved to this day.

The two vast barns , built in the early 1200s, are masterpieces of carpentry. Vast timbers give the barns an awe-inspiring cathedral-like quality.
An exhibition in the Wheat barn explains the incredible skills required to build the barns, which are amongst the best preserved examples of their age.

The Templar Knight stands outside a chapel where a man is being received into the Order. The man is interrogated about his past life, and then kneeling and holding the Bible takes a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. Rumours about the rites performed at Templar initiation ceremonies figured amongst the charges against the Templars at the time of their supress in 1312.

The usual herb garden and carp pond