Friday, 28 December 2012

someone else's 'muriel'

Our decision to move to Wales was one of the spirit and heart rather than the head. It was far from logical, especially when my younger son said that he and his wife were expecting their first baby and we were planning to move miles away.
There was no suitable house for sale that fitted our criteria and we knew that we had to choose a property with our heads and it had to fit our list of 'must haves'. So we rented for two years.
Of course during that time we did fall in love with a 250 year old cottage. 
It needed quite a bit of work and the owners were reluctant to accept our offer. But as the cottage had been on the market for over a year and they wanted a sale they agreed. Two days later it rained, and rained, and rained and a stream up the hill blocked with debris and a torrent of water came straight down the hill flooding the cottage as well as the Chapel so we pulled out and waited another nine months for a suitable house.

When we came for our first viewing, we were a little concerned that the previous occupiers had moved the bathroom to one of the double bedrooms leaving a small box room just big enough for a single bed and a small chest of drawers but no electric sockets. So we had to allow enough money to move the bathroom back and we made it bigger by removing the wall between the loo and small room.
someone had painted a mural in the double room!

Over three years later it is still there but parts of it have been abused by me getting rid of excess paint on my brushes and roller when I finished painting my study and the bathroom. And by the end of today I'm hoping that it will disappear for ever!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

how many chapel members does it take to put up the Christmas lights?

1. H. is our treasurer and part-time organist and lives over the road from the Chapel half way up a hill and so she has a very good view of the Chapel. And she thought that the Chapel would look so much nicer if there were Christmas lights on the tree in front of the Chapel.

2. B. spent quite a bit of time working out how to get the electricity from the Chapel to the tree and came up with a couple of methods.

3. G. thought one of these ways was best.

4. R. drilled holes and inserted hooks in the Chapel walls.

5. R&G  bought some lights.

6. V. offered the use of her 40mtr cable.

7. R&B ran the cable from the stable ( for over a hundred years the horse was the mode of transport for the visiting preachers and they needed somewhere to shelter!) over the door to the kitchen, under the windows of the School Room and Chapel and over the porch using the hooks already in place and then into the elm tree and then into the holy tree where the lights to the tree were plugged in and encased in several heavy duty plastic bags!

8. R&B with the aid of the ladder, climbed into the silver birch tree and arranged the lights which were then switched on.

9. G and everybody else agreed that 80 light bulbs seemed to disappear in the tree and more were needed.

10. number 5&8 was repeated.

11. H. is very happy with the result but....

Next year yet more lights will be in the tree! 

The rest of Chapel life happens in a very similar way with everyone contributing in their own special way.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

If it's Wednesday, it must be ...

Village Coffee Morning!
A couple of years ago, I was persuaded by one of the members at Chapel to go along to said group. I think it was originally set up for the more elderly of the village but it constantly needs new and younger blood.
We pay a small annual subscription and pay £1 each week for a cup of coffee and biscuits. And then at the end of each term we go out to the local hotel for a very nice meal. For many of the ladies and gentlemen, this is the only time that they go out for a meal. Usually we all pay £5.00 with the club paying for the rest of the bill but sometimes when the bank account is nicely flush, we all get a free meal.
A few weeks ago the three ladies who had been running the club for many years had had enough and all stepped down at the Annual General Meeting, leaving us all in a bit of a fix as no-one felt that they could commit to being there every Wednesday.
However, one lady in her eighties (a Chapel member) volunteered to be the treasurer and another younger lady volunteered to be the secretary, leaving the post of chairperson vacant.
But it had to be filled, especially for signing cheques which needed at least two signatures.
Well, if all they need is someone to sign their name, I said OK!
And for my first week in post I had a prior engagement but since then I have been there on the other side of the counter.
Fortunately, I have been able to take on this extra responsibility without it incurring too much extra work.
If the Chapel isn't suitable to run coffee mornings for the village then the Chapel will just have to go to the Village Hall!

Friday, 26 October 2012


There has been a rather long pause in my blogging over the summer due to my 'get up and go' disappearing for a few months but recently some of it has come back!

I don't usually listen to Radio 3, preferring Radio 4 or BBC1, but one evening recently I heard a piece of music and it seemed very familiar so with the aid of the internet was able to find its title. The music turned out to be 'Automne', a piece I knew very well as a young teen as it was my solo piece when the dancing school I attended put on shows. However hearing it many decades later it didn't sound quite right but then I was not dancing to a record but to a lovely lady playing the piano and it is only recently that I have been made aware that different performers can play the same piece of music in very different ways! Why does Eric Morecambe come to mind?!

I get my dressmaking skills from my Mum and she made all my dresses for the shows including several tutus. The one to dance the part of Autumn had a brown satin bodice and a skirt of many layers of green, brown and orange net and it is rather disappointing that the one photo I have is in black and white and as tights were not as stretchy as today, although I don't have Nora Batty ankles, the knees are rather baggy, so no-way will it get scanned and put on-line!

I spent many hours painting and cutting paper leaves that I held in my hands and then wafted over the stage during the dance and I'm always reminded of the dance at this time of year, especially when the leaves are as colourful as they are this Autumn.

And then I saw this which explains everything!

Friday, 1 June 2012

more study

I'm writing this sitting in my room at college having just finished the last day of a three year course to help my development in my ministry, having become a local minister 14 years after leaving college!
It has been a good course learning as much from fellow students as from the tutors and I have made some good friends, some of whom I will be able to keep in touch with the aid of facebook!
Coming to London every month gives me a good opportunity to visit friends and family, and several have asked if this is the end of my visits. But no, I will continue to study and have been officially given permission to continue coming to college each month to spend time in the library and archives to study the life of Mrs Spurgeon.
She was an amazing woman - 'behind every great man there is an even greater woman'!

Monday, 28 May 2012


I'm now back home after a flying visit to London yesterday to help my eldest celebrate his 40th birthday.
When we were all much younger a Saturday tea-time treat was to watch The Muppets and we all had our favourites. Mark's was Kermit but as he grew older and took up drumming his favourite switched to Animal.
Mark and Katie live near the lady who won the 'Bake off' competition and Katie was given the opportunity of having some lessons and this is what she made for Mark! and it tasted wonderful!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

for one night only

I have not missed many Baptist Assemblies in recent years, especially when for a few years I was on the committee that discussed the arrangements. When I lived in suburbia I thought it was great when the Assembly was held in London, but now I am in Wales I'm not so sure! Although I have two children who live within a short commute of London they both have cats and I am allergic to them so I can't stay there! and I have never liked traveling home from London in the late evening anyway. The other option is a B&B in London but the cost of that is way out of my league!
So I asked my daughter if she would like to come with me for the Friday evening so that I would feel safe on my journey out of London to a cheaper hotel! Mandie has recently moved but has not, as yet, got the courage to go to the local Baptist church on her own especially as she does not know anyone there. But last summer I met Pete who was leaving college to take up the post of minister at her local church.
Are you still with me...?
As we walked into Westminster Central Hall, immediately in front of us was Pete and his wife! Mandie was duly introduced and she now feels far more comfortable about taking that brave step!
It was lovely to catch up with a couple of friends, albeit very briefly, but I was disappointed not to see C from Glasgow, I know she was there but our paths did not cross.
The evening was superb, from saying thank you to Pat Took for being last year's President to welcoming Chris Duffett as President for this year. I have enjoyed reading about his street evangelism but to hear him talk about it and encourage us was very special. And although what he does seems a million miles away from my ministry, the way it has impacted me, I am sure there will be something that I can take from the inner city and bring to rural Wales!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

I survived

Was it the walk up Cadair Idris or the cycle ride along the Mawddach Trail? No it was being without the internet for ten days! I did have my computer with me so that I could download the day's photos but I did miss keeping in touch with my facebook and blogging friends.
We spent the first five days camped - in our camper-van (plugged into electricity! = fan heater!) at the bottom of Cadair Idris in mid-Wales. On one of the days we planned to walk up to what we termed as base camp! It had been raining hard but it turned to drizzle and there had been some very heavy hail the day before. We had a good walk which included some scrambling up some rocks - really good fun in good weather! But as we had only planned a morning walk, when we reached the snow-line we thought it wise to turn round and re-trace our steps.
Bob took all the photos because my shakes mean blurred photos but I wasn't quite sure if the camera was working properly - hence my quizzical look!
For our second five days we moved camp to just north of Barmouth so that we were near to Cycle Route 8, part of which is the Mawddach Trail which runs along side the Afon Mawddach. But first one has to cross the mouth of the estuary along side the railway on a wooden bridge.
We cycled for nearly two hours reaching a good pub for an excellent meal before returning! My bike has front suspension, for which I was very grateful but cycling over the wooden bridge on a full stomach was not very pleasant!
As you can see from the photos we had very mixed weather. We (he) took lots of photos, including this rather 'arty' one as a friend has a painting just like this!
Last year we had a holiday across the bay and it was fun trying to work out the various coastal towns below the mountains.
Having come home I dread the mountains of washing and although it is all done now, I could do with another holiday!

Friday, 13 April 2012

at long last

I went to a technical school - I don't think they exist anymore. They were for the ones who weren't quite bright enough to get through to a grammar school - they had a secretarial stream and nursing stream and usually took 'O'levels in the lower sixth and 'A'levels in one year in the upper sixth.
We all had a general education for the first three years and specialised in the fourth and fifth years. I took both Maths and English 'O'levels in the fifth year - but failed English. So took it again at Christmas along with cookery. Having got three exams out of the way the rest of my sixth form was more manageable for me. But my most difficult 'O'level was embroidery - it consisted of three exams - one where we had to make a design, another on the history (which meant visits to the London museums) and the theory, and the third to test our actual skills of doing it!
I still love it! but it is so time consuming! I find I am attracted to books of it and pre-packaged packs of it - and have a chest full, some I inherited from my Mum who had the same compulsion!
Thirty one years ago, having been widowed a few years before, she met up again with my Dad's best friend from their teenage years, they fell in love and married. And I decided that I would make them a cushion cover that I had seen in one of my many books. The wedding came and went and I had only completed a fraction of the embroidery. The following year we adopted Mandie and the little spare time I had vanished. So the embroidery was taken off the frame and put in the chest.
Thirty years later, Mandie having married and after many, many moves of house, I decided to see if I could complete the cushion cover. Then there was the problem of which would happen first - finish the cover or run out of wool! It was the latter - I think some wool got lost in one of the moves. Unfortunately - they don't make that embroidery wool any longer, so I had to buy a different make to get the right colour, and that wool was very slightly thicker, but fortunately unless you know you can't see the join! Unfortunately neither Mum or my step-Dad are a round to see the finished article.
My favourite part of the embroidery is what they call velvet stitch, a cross stitch with a loop in the middle which is then cut, giving a carpet like effect.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

my Easter

Most people's Easters last for a long weekend, but mine lasted a whole week!
It started last Thursday evening when the folk from our Chapel were invited up the road to join in the Maundy Thursday supper at the local Anglican Church. We have been doing this for several years now and have got to know the folk at Church really well.
We have a simple meal of home-made soup, home-made bread rolls, cheese and grapes and our time together concludes with Holy Communion. The father-in-law of the Anglican Deacon who was leading the service was a Baptist minister and the service was taken from the small red book known by many Baptist ministers.
On Friday we had a service at our Chapel at 3pm which was well attended.
Saturday morning saw many of us back in the Chapel decorating it ready for Sunday morning.
And on Easter Sunday we were joined by several visitors who were staying at the local caravan site.
Monday was a day off, but Tuesday was our monthly bible study, where over lunch the vicar said that one of his favourite passages is the story of Jesus meeting the two disciples travelling on the road to Emmaus - little did he know but that was our passage for the day! We had a new face to the bible study - one of our longest serving members at Chapel.
And yesterday instead of our regular coffee morning at the village hall we had an Easter Tea.
Each week we pay £1 for our coffee and biscuits, but the money is saved and every few months we go out for lunch at the local hotel or pub and once a year we have an amazing tea. I knew what to expect, so this year I took along my camera. There were about 25 of us to eat this tea and many took sandwiched and cakes home as well!

Sunday, 25 March 2012


and I don't mean nut clusters... or maybe I do, hearing the amount of laughter and glorious silliness at the meeting we had yesterday!
For those of you reading this who are not aware of Baptist structures, about 30 years ago, churches were encouraged to link up with other Baptist churches in their area for support and encouragement.
When I lived 'up north', there were three churches in our cluster but one was a large inner-city church, one a small sea-side church and the third a rural farming chapel. Apart from being Baptist we had nothing in common.
However, here in Wales we have the 'Rural Churches' consisting of eight small churches and chapels all around the English/Welsh border; some are in villages while others seem to be in the middle of nowhere but all are struggling. Two have full-time ministers, one a part-time minister and there is also a lay pastor both who regularly preach at the chapels without ministers. But one of the main reasons it works is because in this area of farms you will often find relatives marrying someone from a different chapel! and it seems to be quite a static community with farms being passed on down the generations.
Over the years we have been meeting four times a year where there is plenty of time for conversation catching up with friends, eating, worshipping and praying together. But this year we also held a study group looking at small churches and many folk come to our Services of Prayer for Healing.
Yesterday we had a Prayer Lunch; we used to have a Prayer Breakfast but it meant a very early start for those who prepared the meal! In early summer we have a Praise evening, in late summer we hold a barbecue and in December we have an Advent Service. And this morning we had the pleasure of Joy, the Lay Pastor take our service.

Monday, 19 March 2012

the walk pt.2

Today the legs seem to be OK but yesterday afternoon, having walked to Chapel and back they were telling me that they knew they had walked up the hill the day before!
This is the view of the hill taken from my study window. I am very grateful to our neighbours who cut down their large ugly conifers last year as the trees had obscured my view! I don't get this view when sitting at my desk but by kneeling on my desk and leaning out of the window. As you can see the weather was glorious this morning!
On Saturday we walked up to the top which is in shadows and then along the top to as far as you can see. One day I would like to go further but not sure about walking all the way to Hay! although I know that one of my blogging friends, now in Scotland, has walked the Offa's Dyke path which runs across the fields at the back of our house and then follows the route we took.
As a diabetic I have to be careful over my insulin and food input with the energy I use walking. So on a walking day, I skip my breakfast injection and just before we leave I am allowed to have toast or bread spread liberally with marmalade! Within half an hour, I have a treat of a sugary biscuit, another half hour and I can eat a sweet and then with my sandwiches, I can have a piece of cake! such luxury!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A walk

When we were looking for a house to buy, we told the estate agents that it had to be detached - not only because we didn't want to hear what the neighbours were doing but because we like to play our music loud! What we didn't say was that we would like it to be within walking distance of a baptist church or chapel and that we would like to put our boots on indoors to walk the hills - ie. we didn't want to drive first!
Fortunately three years ago, a suitable house came on the market - the fact that we still are no-where getting it to how we would like it is beside the matter, but also goes to explain why we have not walked across the fields and up our favourite hill since we moved here!
Until today!
We made the decision on Thursday and watched the weather forecast which improved over the last two days - but we go prepared for rain anyway.
I was quite surprised at my energy levels and we walked further than we last went four years ago. There was a little precipitation in the air when we stopped for coffee but there were pockets of blue sky by lunch time and as we sat on the top we could see Hereford and the Malvern Hills in the distance and the Bristol Channel in the other direction.
The sheep on the top had very thick coats which seemed much whiter than those down on the fields.
As well as the sheep, there were wild ponies. In the past these ponies would have been taken south to the valleys and then down the mines where they would have stayed for many years.
We are on Hatteral Hill looking across to The Skirrid, a hill that we usually climb up the sharp angle, which is the quickest way from home.
These two ponies were obviously friends, rubbing their heads and necks together and you can see from their manes and tails, it was quite breezy!
Our legs were a bit wobbly as we got nearer home and it tried to rain but by the time we had stopped to put on our over-trousers the rain left off and we didn't get the deluge promised by the weather forecast.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

forty years on

I'm the only one from my family who wasn't addicted to photography. Both my parents belonged to a photographic club and my brother joined in his early teens and won most of the prizes! My Dad took colour slides and Mum took black and white photos which she then developed and printed herself which explains why this is a black and white photo and why she is not in it! It was taken at my eldest son's party after his dedication. He loves it as he sees himself as being the centre of attraction - which of course he was!
This last Sunday was his son Oliver's christening and I suggested that we recreate the photo and Mark insisted that I was in the photo rather than behind the camera, for which I was grateful as I now have to get others to take photos with my camera as my shakey hands mean fuzzy pictures!
There are three people who are in both photographs, Mark, on the right with the bright pink tie! his Dad, at the back with beard (he is the one with long hair and seventies' moustache in the original photo!) and I'm on the left of Oliver (on Mark's right in the original).
It was earlier in the day when the original was taken so Mark was happy to pose, but by this time Oliver had had enough!
The christening was held in their local church in Epping Forest and as it is called the church of the Holy Innocents, the font is at the front of the church. It was a beautiful service, with his Auntie Mandie reading a poem and I said a prayer. As well as each of the Godparents also making the sign of the cross on Oliver's forehead, the lady vicar held Mark and Katie's hands together and blessed them in caring for Oliver. Then it was a short walk back to their home for the party!

Monday, 27 February 2012


Through facebook I was aware that one of my 'friends' was going to be on BBC1's 'The Big Question' discussing the problem of alcohol.
Martin's Dad occasionally preached at the church where I spent my early adult life and we were enthralled at the amazing work that was being done in Kingston. There was always an open invitation to visit and have a meal in their cafe with its big red aga and expresso machine.
But Eric always emphasised that no-one should think that they could copy their work but that each church had to work out for themselves the work that God wanted them to do.
Over the years friendships were established and when I had my call to the ministry, it was suggested that the call should be tested by putting me on the reception desk to help dispense Methadone. Some of my shifts were during the day, sometimes in the evening but often I would start at 11pm by locking the gates, logging off the computer for the day and then clean the reception area which meant mopping down the floor and cleaning the loo! Eventually I would get my head down and be woken by my alarm in time to wash and dress, get the computer up and running for the day and unlock the gates ready to welcome the first clients of the day at 7am. These were often well dressed men and women who would then commute to London.
Very occasionally a client would get chatting asking me why I was there, and although I was rather wary of telling them, they were always delighted and would tell me about their faith. But sometimes they would let slip a little about their lives which left me thinking... what would I have done? how would I have coped? I learnt that very important lesson about never judging someone else, especially if it is very unlikely that one would ever have to walk a mile in their shoes.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

I went to the doctor's and now I have a cold!

Each year I have a general check up for both my asthma and diabetes which fortunately and with a lot of will power, I manage to keep under control. But unfortunately a few days later I started sneezing and blowing my nose. By Tuesday I felt washed out and have spent most of the week taking it very easy.
Then this morning we saw the weather forecast predicting snow overnight and for most of tomorrow! and we thought we should do the weekly shop today before we are likely to get snowed in, although we do realise that the forecast could be wrong!
So this afternoon I'm back on the sofa with my feet up and a blanket over my legs but I have been reminded of my recent session at college where we have been looking at self awareness, concentrating on being aware of our bodies.
As other blogging friends know very well, it is when we are confronted with a serious illness that we take far more notice of our bodies, because if we are unaware or work through pain or stress our bodies can become quite unwell.
In Psalm 139 we are reminded that our bodies, all the delicate and inner parts were knitted together in our mother's womb by God. And so it is up to us to take great care of our bodies and not to abuse them.
And as someone who loves knitting, I love the idea that God picked up knitting needles and made me!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

fancy meeting you here!

Back in the late 70s, I was asked by our minister if I would help out with the young people. Some years previously, the churches in the centre of our town in South London suburbia had agreed to work together to eventually become one church by 1980, and the youth group was where all the young people from all the four churches met each Sunday evening. Sadly, one of the churches eventually voted against the agreement, but the youth group carried on.
I have kept in touch with some of the group; previously with the swapping of Christmas cards but more recently with the aid of facebook.
Last Saturday I was shopping in our local supermarket in South Wales when I saw a familiar figure - a tall, fair haired lady who looked just like one of the youth group. I did a quick calculation and thought; "well she looks like Kate but does she look as if she is in her late forties?" the answer was "no!". But I couldn't get the idea out of my mind and kept looking at this lady through the various isles. I then saw that she was with two other ladies, one about the same age with darker hair - that clinched it, because Kate's sister had dark hair.
This was so strange that I could not concentrate on my shopping and I left hubby with the trolley and approached the dark haired lady as the other two had now walked away.
What was her name? I remember some confusion when her then boyfriend had ordered a cake for her 18th birthday and the person who iced the cake got her name wrong.
"Excuse me, is your name Julie?" "Judith" she replied - so I had got it wrong too!
I introduced myself, and it seems I have changed in the last 34 years! Gradually, Judy recognised me and called Kate back "Look it's Sue from Teens!".
Kate had seen us chatting and thought it typical that Judy having come from South London for a visit should bump into someone she knew!
Although I have been living here for five years, Kate has lived here for the last twenty years, while the minister mentioned above has lived in Wales for nearly thirty years and another member of the youth group also moved to Wales many years ago, and I will be seeing her this coming weekend, something I haven't got around to before!

Friday, 6 January 2012

is it really worth it?

I see that Easter eggs are appearing on the shelves! 
I don't think I had hit my teens when I realised that they were rather expensive for the amount of chocolate that they contained - so I asked my Mum and Dad if I could have a large bar of plain chocolate instead - even now it is difficult to buy a plain chocolate Easter egg!
Then the following November, I asked if I could have chocolate instead of fireworks - again they seemed so expensive and were often a dismal failure - a few seconds of sparkle in exchange for a lot of money!
It seems that I am unusual - but I wonder how many other people find the millions of pounds spent on a ten minute display at the beginning of the year, rather distasteful in this economic climate. 
Where does the money come from?
And how many more millions - no billions are going to be spent on the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics? I love the procession of those taking part but isn't the rest of it us just showing off? but please don't burn all that money on fireworks! 
And before that there will be the Queen's Jubilee? I know that many people will be doing something special to celebrate the event but do we really need yet more fireworks!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year!

We all say it, but life isn't all happiness and the first Christmas wasn't all singing, presents and gurgling babies either! It was very quickly followed by a jealous king killing all the boys under the age of two. So our service yesterday was a bit down-beat, remembering all those who still grieve for their children killed through war, accidents and disease.
But we also have many things for which we gave thanks. We welcomed two new deacons who are long standing members of the chapel and are now in a position to give more time to the fellowship.
And we also introduced to the congregation our new lectern.

We are very fortunate that the husband of one of our members is a very gifted carpenter who specialises in church furniture. We wanted a lectern that would fit in with the woodwork of the chapel and could be adjusted for people of different height and for those who are a bit unsteady on their feet and would prefer to sit to read. The top is also adjustable for those who prefer a different angle! 
I asked if we could have a celtic cross carved into it.

We are so very happy with the finished result! It is brand new but looks so at home in our 174 year old chapel. Thank you Jeremy!