Thursday, 28 February 2008

Baby Lambs and healthy Chickens at Pilgrims Hall

I was at Pilgrims Hall yesterday
A Christian Recource Centre that I am involved with
It's lambing time so I wanted to show you these new babies

They are Jacob Sheep and can be traced back to Biblical times
Unfortunately this year a Rotweiller dog got into the fields and worried the pregnant sheep
causing abnomalities and death in some of the lambs

These week old lambs jump about in the fields and it is almost impossible to
catch them still

This Mother had just given birth a few hours ago
The had triplets and as you see here one is a runt

This is one of her brood - just a few hours old

Here the shepherd is hand rearing a set of twins whose Mother is seriously ill
I just love how the sheepdog keeps guard

Didn't want to neglect the chickens as they supply me with delicious
free-range organic eggs

This one thinks he is king

The doves have flown
Hope you enjoyed your visit

Monday, 25 February 2008

February Musings

Where did February go? I say the same every month

I am sure that time is speeding up!
For those who did not see it, here is my daughter Janie's comment on number 6 of my last post
"That house, I remember it as if it were yesterday, it was very scarey, at the age I was then of course."
She has managed to post again so I am sure she will enjoy you visiting
How she manages to work full time in a high pressure career, travel, look after her family and animals, knit, make jewellery,cook, entertain, decorate her home and lead a busy social life I do not know
My son Peter is off to Palm Springs this Thursday so all my Californian blogging buddies just may have him flying over you
Amongst the gardening I am still trying to make a dent in the spring cleaning and we are decorating the bathrooms
I now have a confession to make
I have just found out from my daily newspaper that
LOL means Laugh out Loud
I had thought it was Lots of Love
So to my kind gentlemen visitors I am disappointed

Here I am exhausted having spent most of the day doing the necessary hard work and pruning in order to enjoy the garden in all it's beauty in the Summer

I did not see the Lunar Eclipse last week
It was passing over us in the middle of the night and there was intermittent cloud cover making it not worth putting the alarm on
I took this picture of the moon over my house the previous night

This was a Chinese Restaurant we went to last week

There were 60 dishes to choose from and as often as you like
I am not a large eater so it is wasted on me
We were out with a group of 18 and it was not my choice but the company was good

Saturday, 23 February 2008

My STORY Chapter 20 - The Many Faces of Itinerant Travel

I found that most itinerant travel runs smoothly and is uneventful, but it’s the eventful and unusual that sticks in one’s mind. Maybe I will just relate a few as each one is a story in itself.

1. I had driven my missionary friend to speak at a home Bible study in Mississippi. The hosts Father owned a stately home in the Cotswolds in England. He had bought it when the owner had died leaving no heir, and subsequently sold off one wing to another wealthy American. Our host, who we shall call Jim, planned to take his Bible study group to spend a week there in the summer. He asked me if me and my family would like to join them. Initially I was a bit taken aback, but on phoning Alan we agreed to go. The group spent their first weekend in London so on the Sunday evening we had the pleasure of the whole group visiting with us in our home.

The following day we drove to Sherbourne House in the Cotswolds. We were expecting just a large house in the country as Jim had not given any details at that point, but we arrived to find we had our own beautiful apartment in a magnificent stately home, where the maids had already been in and stocked the fridge. The week was spent cycling, swimming, Polo at Cirencester, pub lunches, Bible study and last but not least a trip in Jim’s Fathers Rolls Royce to a private restaurant on our last evening.
(I shall be doing a separate post on this week sometime) And…………

2. Alan and I touched down from one Atlantic flight, and having flown on to a smaller airport, were immediately interviewed by CNN reporters. The Gulf War had broken out while we were in the air and they wanted to know how we felt about flying at that time. We had not been informed by the Pilot so knew nothing about it until we landed and then we didn’t have much choice. And………..

3. It had been arranged for Pamela and I to stay in the home of single twin brothers during our time in an area in the North of England. These men were not considered too bright but they were the kindest and most generous of people one could ever meet. They looked after us like princesses and vacated their home and moved into a caravan on their land in order to give us the full run of their home. They had built their home themselves on land they owned and in many ways from outside it looked like a large shed, but on the inside it was so cosy and comfortable. They were collectors of antiques and their home was full of them, we had never seen anything like it. They also ran a dog sitting service and looked after people’s dogs while they were away. They had built a large dog house too, and each dog had it’s own room with carpet furniture and a radio. And……………..

4. Alan and I were invited to a home on the South Coast of England belonging to a couple on our mailing list. They were looking for encouragement and wanted to talk things through with us. When we got there we were told that we would need to book into a hotel because the cat slept on the bed in the spare room. OK. And…………….

5. We were invited to Spain to spend a week with another couple on the mailing list as they were short on Christian fellowship and needed encouragement. When we got there, these folks were wanting us to take sides with them in a feud with another Christian group that was forming out there. Certainly not what we were about. And…………………

6. It was a school half term week and my daughter was home and Alan had taken holiday from work so that the 3 of us could spend a week with an elderly retired missionary acquaintance in the North of England. She had planned a series of meetings in her home and wanted us to attend and share. We had stayed with her a number of times before, and she in our home, so we knew her well. As there were 3 of us and her home was basically a one person retirement flat, she had arranged sleeping quarters for us elsewhere. She was elderly and had spent her life on the mission field in some very remote places on earth so she never thought to check out the accommodation that was offered us. We were used to accepting whatever hospitality we were offered but this was something different.

We arrived at a large and fairly isolated stone house late at night. It turned out that the house belonged to a doctor and it had been divided into two homes. The doctor and his wife lived in one half while his Mother had lived in the half that we were offered. Since the Mother had died 10 years earlier the house had been occupied by an alcoholic brother who had since left. We knew none of this at the time and our missionary friend had only ever been into the doctors house.

We walked into a large and very sparse kitchen with a stone flagged floor. All I remember was a large wooden table and little else. We were only sleeping at the house. What I do remember vividly is the upstairs of the house. Our bedroom was large with 2 enormous oak wardrobes full of the diseased Mother’s clothes. The windows were covered in cobwebs and the iron bedstead was beginning to rust. We decided it was best not to look at the mattress. Our daughter was allocated a room across the landing. There was an open water tank on a wooden base in the room. I kid you not.

The bathroom was equally neglected. I knocked a mirror slightly over the wash basin and bugs of some sort fell into the sink. We all decided that basic ablutions were all that we could manage. At the end of the landing a door opened onto a dark and cobwebbed stair case leading to a loft or something. We did not investigate. My daughter was so distressed that I slept in the bed with her leaving Alan sound asleep in the main bedroom. How can men do this?

We slept little and in the middle of the night we were disturbed by a bat flying around the room. Neither of us would dare get out of bed in the dark and our shouts to Alan were of no avail as he was sound asleep. We just lay and dozed waiting for the morning light. My daughter began to have an allergic reaction to the dust and mildew and the following day we had to thank the owners for their hospitality but also tell them that we could not continue to stay there because of my daughters allergy. The wife was quite put out because she said she had broken her arm while trying to get the place ready for us.

Our missionary friend found somewhere else for us. We arrived at a house we could hardly see for overgrown bushes and trees. We pushed our way through the overhanging shrubs and were given a warm welcome by the owner, another elderly lady. The house was full from top to bottom with antiques and bric-a-bac and this lady was certainly a collector. There wasn’t a space left on the dining table or any of the surfaces and every stair tread was piled up too leaving just enough room to walk up in the middle. The problem here again for our daughter was the dust. Added to that she was given a bedroom that held the house alarm system so she was told not to get out of bed or move around. Again we were only sleeping at the house so we solved the problem by arranging for our daughter to sleep at our hosts home and we saw her to bed before we left and she did not get up until we arrived next morning. We continued to sleep amongst the antiques and bric-a-brac. And……………….

7. Again Pamela and I were travelling in England and we arrived at our next stop late on as Sunday afternoon. It was a large and very beautiful home. There was a meeting planned at another house in the evening so we had stopped off on our journey to eat a substantial meal at lunchtime. Come tea time our host asked us what we would like to eat. We did not know what to ask for never having been to the house before and we were not very hungry. One is usually presented with a table of food or a meal so this was unusual. I suggested a boiled egg with bread and butter would be fine for me while Pamela said she would like a tomato and herb sandwich. Our host said that was fine and would we prepare it and prepare the same for her and her husband. This was most unusual but we found out later that she did not cook having been in a previous wealthy marriage where she employed a cook.

We returned from the meeting after midnight to find that there had been a misunderstanding in our arrangements. When discussing plans for the next day it turned out that our hosts had been expecting us for 2 nights whereas our plan had been for 1 and we were due at another home in another town the following day. It seemed our host had employed a cook to prepare food for us and this was the first time it had been mentioned. In order not to waste the food they prepared a table there and then and at 1.0 am in the morning we sat down to a table laid with a large ham, beef and salads and many other accompaniments , not to mention desserts. I don’t know which groaned the loudest, our stomachs or the table. They do say that truth is stranger than fiction and we were beginning to believe it. And……………

Before ending this chapter perhaps one of our transatlantic crossings is worth a mention. It was at the time that Virgin Atlantic was a new and small airline and they only had 2 aircraft. We had arrived at Gatwick early in the morning for a midday flight to New York. We were going to Mississippi but had chosen this route as the cheapest way to get there at the time. There was a problem with our aircraft and we could not take off so we had to wait until their other plane arrived from Tokyo.

We eventually took off at 7.30 pm so were some 6 hours late arriving in New York. While we were waiting for a connecting flight a thick fog descended on the airport. We still had a long way to go as we were travelling via. Nashville. It was one of those times when the airline had no idea when we would be taking off so we were on and off the plane like yo-yo’s. I was trying to phone our friends in Mississippi from the airline desk when they told us to get back on the plane quickly as there was a break in the fog on the runway. We took off and suddenly the plane hit such bad turbulence that the stewardess standing next to us grabbed on to our seat speaking profanities and asking what was happening. Apparently we had flown straight into a violent thunderstorm.

By the time we arrived in Nashville the airport was closed for the night so after landing we were virtually stranded. The airline did not offer help in what they called ‘an act of God’ and we did not want to pay a hotel bill for just a few hours when we were flying the cheapest route we could find. Fortunately we knew someone in Nashville so roused them from sleep in the early hours of the morning. They gladly offered us a room until the first flight out the next morning. What we were not expecting was a long wait at the airport while full make-up was applied! We did eventually enjoy soaking in a hot bath and sinking into a comfortable bed for 3 hours in a most beautiful house until we could continue our journey the next morning. I never did count up the hours that this journey took, but it was a very long time and very tedious. We decided cheap flying just was not worth it. However we survived to live many more adventures so stay tuned.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

I have Won Another Giveaway (and 3 Awards)

A couple of weeks ago I won a Giveaway at Susan's blog
Today it arrived in the post
A book by Franklin Graham - Living Beyond the Limits
and an Angel Wall Plaque
Thank you so much Susan
I have hung the plaque in my computer/art room so that I will be daily
reminded of you

Also in the last couple of weeks I have received the following awards

This one came in 2 different forms

First from Susie in the form of You are a Blessing and
Charlotte in the form of To Bless You

This Forever Friends Circle came from Connie

I am so honoured to receive awards from dear blogging friends
and accept them in the spirit that they are sent
Thank You

There are so many people that I could pass these awards on to

Everyone who visits and contacts me is a blessing and I hope that all my regular blogging buddies are forever friends

so please if you are one of these then do accept this award with my love

Monday, 18 February 2008

A Day with Oliver

Last week was extremely busy with numerous engagements as well as gardening
but Friday was one of Grandma's special days
We went to our daughter Jane's and took Oliver out of nursery for the day
With so many Grandmothers doting over their Grandchildren on their blogs
I thought I would join in
This is 18 month old Oliver learning to play cricket
My son Peter is a great cricket fan, both playing in a team and
watching England play around the world when possible
He is a good player and at the age of 15 was offered a sponsored course at
our county cricket ground
So it was inevitable that he would buy a minature cricket bat for his nephew
These bats are bought in order to have famous cricketers sign them
Here Jane is showing him how to hold it (don't let Peter see!!)

He's excited

He's enjoying it but he will have to learn not to sit down

This was his latest artistic endeavour from nursery

And this is Peter

Saturday, 16 February 2008

The Garden Comes to Life and glimpses of Spring

The garden is coming into life
February is the time when I prune my Clematis
With the weather turning mild I went out to do that this week
but ended up pruning 16 small shrubs in all including the Clematis
I did this over part of three days
There are those shrubs that must not be pruned too early fortunately as I might have been tempted to overdo it
The weather has since turned very cold with heavy morning frosts so I hope I won't regret it

I love the sight of the first Crocuses

And the Japanese Quince

A pretty Hebe
Winter Virbernum

My Orchid is in full flower again
This is it's third year of flowering

The Christmas Ponsietta's still in bloom

Making a nice contrast

Inside and out

I walked through my local park early this week and was amazed to see that the May Blossom is out
Never seen it this early

MY STORY - Chapter 19 - Forward and Onward

Having been pressed to learn how to walk in gut level faith in what was for me at the time terrifying experiences; God continued to take me on into more and more of His purposes for me at that time. That first faith trip, flying alone across the Atlantic culminated in my taking 64 flights over the next 6 years, to the States, internally in the States and to Europe and Ireland. What a mighty God we have, He can take us where of ourselves we could not go. As I am sitting here writing I am reminded of a piece of inspirational writing called ‘The Will of God’ that has helped me and the many people that I have shared it with and it certainly fits this part of my story so I print it here. I do not know however where this piece originated from.


The will of God will never take you,
where the grace of God cannot keep you,
where the arms of God cannot support you,
where the riches of God cannot supply your needs.
where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you,
where the Spirit of God cannot work through you,
where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
where the army of God cannot protect you,
where the hands of God cannot mould you.

The will of God will never take you,
where the love of God cannot enfold you,
where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
where the peace of God cannot calm your fears
where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you,
where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
where the Word of God cannot feed you,
where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

During my 5 weeks on this trip, once the conference was over, I traveled on an itinerant trip from Mississippi to Massachusetts. We visited homes just like we had done the previous year in England, where we stayed and had meetings and times of sharing with folks. It would take many chapters to relate the whole trip but a few things stick in my mind as worthy of mention.

For some of the trip our missionary friend Norman, who was then well into his 90’s was traveling with us. Having spent his life on the mission field and traveling the length and breadth of the States himself by car, he found it difficult to reconcile the luxury of flying from place to place. He had been used to shunning the luxuries of life. But now however he was old, ill and in a wheelchair so it was necessary. I remember on arriving in the airport in Connecticut, I was looking after the luggage while my friend took care of Norman and the wheelchair. I knew he had 2 pieces of luggage but I had forgotten that his typewriter (he was a prolific writer and had written many books) was counted as luggage by the airline staff. So in counting up 2 pieces of luggage for each of us I counted the typewriter instead of a suitcase. It was not until 1.0 am in the morning, well after the airport had closed, that it became apparent that one of Norman’s cases was missing. I tell you this story to demonstrate how just being around this man was a spiritual learning curve in itself. When I felt concerned and worried that I had not only left his case, but left the most important one, his answer to me was, “Well dear, I can sleep in my underwear, I can trust God for this old ‘ticker,’ (He was frail and needed medication for his heart) but I will pray that all those letters from dear people around the world will be kept safe.” He did not want to disappoint the many people who had written to him and would be waiting for replies. This was a man who thought of others and not himself.

When later we were traveling back south to New York, we stopped for a meeting in New York State. Having shared my testimony a lady who was there asked me if I would travel back with her to her home in New Jersey as she was going to a ladies meeting the following day and she would like me to share my testimony with the ladies there. I knew that God had wrought immense changes in my life when I was able to temporarily part company with my traveling companions and go alone and stay with a lady I had only just met, to a home in a place I had never been to in New Jersey. A journey of a thousand miles certainly begins with a single step as the saying goes. God takes us on one step at a time and as we are obedient and faithful in that then He takes us on to the next.

Somebody drove Norman back to his home in Washington and we ended this particular trip staying in a hotel and chilling our in New York. Another friend who was an heiress and deeply involved in the ministry treated us to the hotel and paid all my expenses in New York. In New Jersey I had become unwell with flu but in spite of this I was determined to enjoy all that was on offer. On my last day this included a make-over, a visit to Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and some shopping before flying home in the evening. An incident that stays in my mind from that day was walking along a side street and thinking that I recognized the person walking towards me. As we drew alongside 3 voices in unison called out “It’s Dustin Hoffman.” Poor man, there he was taking a quiet stroll with his wife when 3 middle aged ladies went weak at the knees and embarrassed themselves.

The day eventually ended with my being ripped off by a taxi driver on my way to the airport, but managing to find 4 empty seats in the centre of the plane where I was able for the only time on an aircraft to sleep for most of the journey.

So followed some 8 years of traveling, organizing conferences, hosting in my home, visiting and sharing. I was also invited to the President’s Prayer Breakfast in Washington but I didn’t go as I could not justify the cost of the airline ticket for such a short time. I was pressed during all of this time to learn gut level faith in some very hard situations, traveling and being away from home the hardest but this was also mingled with some rewarding and fun times. In the next chapter I shall share some of the many faces of itinerant travel.

I think my make over on Maddison Avenue sent me home looking more

American than English

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A trip to the Mall

Last week we had a trip to the Mall
This is Bluewater Mall and my choice today as I wanted to visit my favourite deprtment store
John Lewis
We needed to replace both my washing machine and my tumbler dryer
My washing machine still worked but after 15 years there were some problems with it
My dryer worked fine but I wanted a condenser dryer so that I did not have to
stick the pipe out of the window
Not a good idea to have a window open when it is pouring with rain
Having made our purchases, along with a few other things
I thought I would let you have a peep into this particular mall

Lots of sculpture depicting different trades

Roses filling the air with their rich dew incense of evening prayer

Old Father Thames

It was 18 degrees celcius

I tried to book a bed for the night

We did not eat at TGI Friday's today

Nor at the Sushi Bar

But we did visit Krispy Kreme after a sandwich lunch at Marks and Spencers

and I chose a Lemon Merangue doughnut

This mall is built into an old disused quarry site

We are now on our way home and as Bluewater is the other side of the river
we have to cross the Thames
Going South one drives over the bridge seen here

and going North one drives through one of two tunnels
see bridge still overhead

Once on the other side we visited IKEA
I wanted another bathroom cabinet
the one I wanted was discontinued
so I chose another fairly similar one
The next morning when Alan came to unpack this flatpack item all the screws and one part was missing
So after lunch it was back onto the motorway
This time we found that someone had returned the one that they had as it was not what they wanted. It happened to be the original one that I had wanted
So what initially seemed like a nuisance turned out to be a blessing in disguise