Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Sound of Heaven

As many of you know we have spent a lot of time at Leigh-on-Sea over the years staying at our friend's home overlooking the Thames Estuary. Whilst walking out on the marshes one day my ears picked up a sound on the wind. I stopped and listened and although I did not know what it was, I was drawn to the sound. These marshes on Two Tree Island out in the Thames are often deserted so it is not usual to hear anything more than the wading birds chirping in the marshes or Seagulls flying overhead.
As we began to walk in the direction of the sound I realised that it was human voices I was hearing. These voices were raised in song and I became determined to seek them out so quickened my pace.

As we approached the above steps it sounded like a choir. We could see nobody but the sound was getting nearer. Angels singing in tongues is what it sounded like in that deserted place.
Suddenly all was made clear. Through a gap in a hedge we could see many people and a rainbow of colours. We had come across a large group of people from Africa - all in national dress singing their hearts out.
In joining them and chatting to them they told us that they came every year (hosted by a local church) to worship in the Thames Estuary and pray for our country and particularly London our capital. I always remember the sound and the sense of heaven whenever I walk out on those marshes now. It was one of those memorable moments.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Walking for Charity

Having just said goodbye to my house guests who were in this area on a Prayer Walking mission I got to thinking of all the different walking we have done over the years. During the 90's for quite some years we were involved in Charity Walking.

This was a ramblers group where not only did we walk for fun but we also raised lots of money for local charitable organisations. The above photo shows us handing over a cheque for £2,650 pounds to the Matron of our local Hospice. The man you see in the grey suit was the organiser and visionary behind these walks. We would walk for anything between 6 and 10 miles and he would arrange refreshments half way, and also because we were walking for charity, at times managed entry to many interesting places on the way that were not open to the public.

We raised money by giving a donation at the end of our walk. Over about 10 years over £75,000 pounds was raised this way. The gentleman on the left of the picture is Roger Ro*yle, ex- Chaplain to E*ton College and a television celebrity at the time. Alan and I are about 15 years younger of course!
The longest walks we did were special whole day walks once a year. The longest being 33 miles. Alan managed to finish this one running, I dropped out after 18 miles and our daughter Janie dropped out after 12 with the largest blisters that I have ever seen. Our walks were always cross-country and often hilly so not for the faint hearted.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

One Never Knows

One never knows what a day will bring. Such a true saying. I find that I can look at my calendar at the beginning of a new month, and apart from regular committments the rest can look like a clean sheet and I can think - "well there is not much on this month"

Fast forward to the end of the month and the clean sheet looks very different. I find that my life has been pretty full after all and there has just not been the time to do all the things I thought I might do. I am sure it is pretty much the same for most of us.

In looking back over just these last 2 weeks there has been the friend in bed with back problems who needed help, the elderly neighbours needing same, the Grandchildren unwell so having Bekah here for the day and visiting them at home and a couple of 'prayer walkers' coming to stay for bed and breakfast and a day visiting friends at the coast. None of these things were on my calendar, but all making up part of an interesting life where each day counts.

This morning found me nursing a sore throat, cough and headache and as I looked out on the garden the sun was shining. I was longing to get out in to the garden and continue with my pruning but just did not feel up to it. Come 1.30 pm the weather had changed so much that we were putting the lights on and I was glad to not be in the garden - one never knows!

However I do know that I have a long awaited wedding to attend on Saturday which I am looking forward to and which has been on the calendar for quite some time.

I have been watching the latest brilliant series (in my opinion) of Lark Rise to Candleford. The above set of DVD's is of the first series. I just assumed that the second series would be similar in content to the first and I was initially disappointed to find that it was not. Having reached almost the end of the series I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed it and wait eagerly for the next episode.
This later series has brought in many different characters and situations and one never knows what next week will bring. Obviously the writers thought they needed to move a little with the times and this they have done without losing the basic feel of rural life in the 1800's.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spring is in the Air with Cards Galore

The garden has dried out and no longer are my beds and borders under water. As soon as it's dry it does not take long for Spring to show it's face.

The roses are pruned

But certainly lots of hard work still to do before the shrubs are transformed to their vibrant Summer colour

The Dogwood stems look pretty lying on the lawn but I cannot leave them there

There's colour indoors too with Orchids flowering into their 3rd and 4th year

Then there is lots of card making - Friends getting married

Babies being born

And lots of birthdays

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Heather As Far As the Eye Can See

Husband Alan originates from the North East of England and here we are back in about 1961 taking a day trip from his home town onto the moorland of Northumberland. On our way we pass Hexham Abbey seen here.

There has been a church on this site for over 1,300 years since Queen Ethelreda made a grant of lands to Wilfrid, Bishop of York c.674. Of Wilfrid's Benedictine Abbey, the Saxon crypt and apse still remain. In Norman times the abbey was replaced b y an Augustinian priory. The church you see today is mainly that building of about 1170-1250 in the early English style of architecture. Since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537 the Abbey has been the Parish Church of Hexham and today is a centre of worship and witness to the Christian faith.(Info from official website)
These moorlands are so beautiful when the heather is in bloom

Our little Ford Anglia of the time patiently waiting for us to return.
I don't know if anyone else has been having the same blogger problem that I have. Very annoying. I found that on all the sites that I signed up to follow over the last months my profile picture had disappeared. When I investigated I found it at the end of each list but without a photo, along with a number of others that must have had the same problem. I have no idea why. This involves a complicated process of signing in and from options having to reset everything through a number of actions. I am getting there gradually but if my photo has vanished from your site, do not think that I have deleted myself as a follower - it is a blogger problem.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Opening My Garden in 2000

In the Summer of 2000, along with a number of others in my church, we held an Open Gardens Day. This was in order to raise money to help the street children in Latvia. These children live in the sewers for warmth and shelter.

As well as serving drinks and snacks, each garden had it's own theme. The theme in my garden was a 'learn to paint' day. I was fortunate in having a friend who was a professional artist who offered his services free for the day.

So........friends, neighbours and whoever wanted to come paid a small entrance fee and were then free to sit or roam the garden, buy drinks and snacks, and plants, including my home made cakes. One could also enjoy afternoon tea of home made scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. There was also a 'bric-a-brac' stall where people brought anything they wanted to donate and the 'paint a picture' feature was very popular. People paid an hourly fee and painted for as long or short a time as they chose. My artist friend's plan was that everyone who took part would go home with a painting with his help.

This lady seen here, who had never lifted a paint brush before in her life, ended up going to my friend's painting holidays in France and Spain every year and became an accomplished painter.

Plenty of time to hang around and chat or drink tea etc.

.....or buy plants and bric-a-bac. The day was extremely successful and we raised quite a substantial amount of money between us. People came and went throughout the day taking in 6 gardens in all. One church member was a biker (the type of bike with an upholstered side-by-side seat at the rear) and he drove people between venues for a fee if they wished. Altogether an enjoyable day.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Blue Skies and Hard Work!

A week of blue sky brings out the gardener in me. I have not done anything in the garden since October so although bitterley cold it was good to get out there and make a start. We have cleared all the roses from the bed at the front of the house as they were past their best and becoming deseased. This week I was able to plant 9 shrubs in their place. (You cannot plant new rose bushes in the same place you have had old ones or they will take up the deseases of the old ones)

We have also cleared out and dug over my herb bed. Herbs do get straggly and woody and it is best to start again every few years. I have had ornamental herbs as well as culinary ones but decided this time to plant only the herbs that I regularly use. It will be a little while yet before a good selection will be available but the ground is all ready for when they are. I also used some of this space to plant 2 minature rose bushes. One of these is called Golden Wedding so you can guess which celebration that was bought for.

So good to get the laundry out blowing in the wind too after months of tumble drying.

Another achievement for me this week. I have managed to finish reading Vanity Fair.
768 pages in such tiny print. I have some DVD/Book sets of a number of the classics and having watched the 3 hour DVD while resting with a cold mid-December I was inspired to read the book. Two and a half months later I have finished it. I always have a number of books on the go at once so just kept this for reading in bed.
Although I have most of the old classics it is years since I read one of them. I was so taken with the quality of writing and how clever these old writers were. This particular author William Makepeace Thackeray impressed me with how he writes about the same situation from the viewpoint of different characters.

William Thackeray's hilarious and biting satire exposes the greed and vanity behind the elegance of early 19th-century society. Two girls leave school with very different ambitions - wealthy Amelia Sedley wants nothing more than to marry her childhood sweetheart, but low born orphan Becky Sharp is determined to claw her way up the social ladder by whatever means necessary. The dramatic events of the Napoleonic Wars throw their plans into turmoil, but cunning and ruthless Becky soon turns the carnage of Waterloo to her advantage. In Becky Sharp Thackeray has created one of the most enduring heroines of all time, as relevant and recognisable today as she has ever been. (From the cover)

And we have some weekend baking. Indulging again. I have had several baking sessions this week as I am one of a number making cakes for the afternoon tea that will be served at a friends wedding in a couple of weeks after the ceremony before people move on to the reception venue.
Here we see Peanut Butter and White Belgium Chocolate Blondies. A recipe from Rachael Allen's book.

Last but not least, having given up knitting, passing on all my needles and patterns etc., I wanted a hat to cover my ears when out walking in this very cold weather we have been having. Hence the production of an Aphgan style hat! I do not care what I look like I want warm ears.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Never Too Late

Believe it or not I have had a hard time coming to terms with getting older. I know that I am blessed with health and strength but since turning 70 in 2008 I have struggled with this issue. I know that my time is in God's hands and that my life has been full and rewarding but I have become so aware of how quickly time passes and that there is not a thing we can do about this. Interestingly I had a hard time facing 50 but sailed through facing 60 without a thought. Maybe 80 will be fine!!

Time passing gives one a greater sense of living in the now and appreciating each moment but I am having to learn acceptance of what is, too. There is so much to be grateful for, family, friends and the blessing of faith amongst them. I don't know what new activities are still to come my way but here are a few from recent years.

Learning to sail at 60

Interestingly I was the only one in that lesson that managed to tack across the current and wind and make my way between two pontoons successfully

My first attempts at Archery at 60

Not forgetting sledging down my road at 70

I had my first riding lessons at 42 but have no photos to prove it

and in my mid-fifties studied Psychology at degree level

Clambering up and down and under and over the assault courses with Oliver in the park has now become a norm

So........... what's next? No, I will not learn to play golf - that's hubby's department

let's wait and see!

I had the following piece of writing given to me on my 70th birthday by a friend who knew of my struggle. It was stitched in fine silk on silk and aptly says:


The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just where the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss,
As no man can restore.
The present only is our own
Live, love, toil with a will-
Place no faith in tomorrow - for
The clock may then be still.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Swinging in the Rain

What's this? Clear blue skies!!

When walking before dinner last night it was wonderful to see the sun going down on the horizon. The clear blue skies you see above are how it looks at this very moment. We have another 4 days forecast so............yipee! There is still ice on the rose beds which were flooded again over the weekend but what do I care - the sun is shining.
Why all the excitement well December/January/February have been the coldest for more than 30 years with average temperatures struggling to stay above freezing. Here in the South East where we are known for being a dry county we have had more rain than I can remember in this part of the world.

Saturday found us spending the day with Janie and the Grandchildren. We drove past flooded fields and rivers that had burst their banks which altered the look of the countryside in places. During the afternoon we decided to go for a walk even though it was raining, for children the rain adds to the fun, especially when there are puddles to jump in and mud galore to trample through.

Bekah swinging in the rain with a waterproof jacket over a snow suit, over another hooded jacket making 4 hats to keep her warm and dry. All the clothes went straight into the washing machine when they got home as Bekah had mud up to her knees and Oliver much more having fallen flat in the muddy woodland.