Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas in retrospect - and the blessing

Looking back over another snowy Christmas, there were lots of decisions and changes but most things seem to have gone very well. The Christmas Eve Midnight Communion, which we decided this year to move 30 minutes earlier to 11:00pm so that people were not too late getting home, was moved to the Roman Catholic Church, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Great Missenden. Father Tim was very supportive when we asked him. However, we had to move back again to 11:30 as there was another service at 10:00 pm. Access to the Church was much safer than the road up to St Peter & St Paul, particularly in the dark. The team brought all the necessary kit down in time, although we only just found the service booklets in time. We used the local hymn books - they have over 600 hymns!  I found the service in the 1960s building quite inspirational. Very different, of course, from mediaeval architecture. The roof in IHM slopes upwards towards the altar - very much the opposite to the rather confined feeling of older chancels. I noticed that IHM doesn’t point to the East - I guess this was to make the most of the site.

Earlier on Christmas Eve, the Crib Service had been moved to the school. I didn’t attend this but the reports were very positive and the photos I’ve seen looked great. I hear the star was Rosie’s granddaughter. The snow around the school had to be cleared in time for the service: a few phone calls rounded up a gang of helpers at very short notice - thanks!

The early Christmas Day Communion was moved to the Oldham Hall and Bishop Alan took the service. Again, I didn’t make it. Margaret managed her communion kit again for this service. The Christmas Communion was held in St Peter & St Paul and was well attended by nearly 300 worshippers. We had a team of car parkers (actually non-car parkers) preventing cars driving up to Church where the parking was very limited. But everyone had heeded the warning and lots of people parked in the village and walked up in good time. We had e-mailed and phoned round as many people as possible and I’m sure this helped. Several people thanked me for the phone calls.

We decided to hold the Sunday service up at the Church as the access was improving all the time. By Tuesday, we were able to clear enough of the carpark for guests at the wedding blessing of Dalisay and Bryan.

Earlier in the Christmas season the concerts of the Great Missenden Choral Society and the Roald Dahl Foundation had to be cancelled. Although we weren’t directly involved in these, we were sorry that these two events which we were to host were not able to continue. There’s much talk about people being risk-averse these days but I don’t think any of our changes or cancellations were inappropriate. I think some people were unhappy about the changes but I enjoyed them - but I guess I’m much more used to change, having worked for so many years in a very dynamic environment.

A very big ‘thank you’ is due to everyone who helped with such an eventful few weeks. And it’s not over yet: we plan to hold the cancelled 9 lessons and carols service, complete with mulled wine and mince pies on Epiphany - 6:00pm on Sunday 2nd January.

Our family Christmas was fun but uneventful. We are having a few days of peace before they all descend on us again for new year. We can see the carpet again now it’s free of lego!

The sun came out on Sunday allowing us a little time to play in the snow and take some more pictures of the beauty of Little Hampden.

Thursday, 23 December 2010


The snow is still very much around. There's a lot of pressure to keep services in the Church at Great Missenden but with snow like this we can't take the risk. So all but the 10:00am on Christmas Day will be held elsewhere.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Quite a weekend

The same as last year: snow on the weekend before Christmas. This time we had a wedding at Gt Missenden. Paul, who's son was to be married, arranged a gang of helpers and a tractor to clear the access and spread the extra grit we'd persuaded the council to deliver. Together with some Church volunteers, we managed to achieve this by mid morning – but the snow was starting to fall. We had already arranged contingency plans for an organist and arranged for Vicar Rosie to be collected by a 4x4. Both of these turned out to have been good decisions! Paul had hired a 4wd minibus to relay guests to and from the Church. I hear the wedding went very well, although they were late starting and several guests failed to arrive.

By the afternoon we'd had a very heavy snowfall – at least 8 inches (20cm) at Little Hampden. So some phone calls and decisions: the 8am service on Sunday had been cancelled. We decided to move the 10am down from the Church to the Oldham Hall in the village and to take a decision on the planned 6pm service of lessons and carols on Sunday morning. Communicating with everybody was a challenge: we e-mailed round regularly and put updates on the web site. Not everyone is into these communication methods but we hope that those who are told their less techie friends.

Meanwhile we were prepared to hold another DIY Carol Service at Little Hampden. Geoff was available to play our new organ (and was, I believe, delighted to do so) We had e-mailed round the village inviting all to attend and suggesting that any children who had nativity costumes should turn up. In the event we had a donkey, a king and two angels. We also had an impromptu shepherd. Brenda improvised a nativity getting us to imagine the missing players. We had a full Church for the service which ended with the messy grace!

Cancelling the 6pm service at Great Missenden was the right decision in view of the weather – the roads and pavements are still very dangerous. We're all sorry fr the choir who have been practising but we'll try to include some of their work in the Christmas Eve service – weather permitting.

So I was able to spend some time at Little Hampden where the snow is beautiful and the sunset and moon coming up were wonderful.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Christmas trees again – what's that smell?

Just received this from Graham: “During preparations For the Christmas Tree Festival (to be exact 10 mins before the doors opened on Saturday) an unpleasant odour was noticed, near the main door. Call in the ‘staff’ for a decision and before you could blink the metal floor covers were up, a torch had appeared and the offending rodent (to be precise ‘an ex rodent’) was spotted. Surgical instruments were considered but in the end a few ‘digits’ and a plastic bag, did the trick. Alas your correspondent was not allowed out of the tea bar for the internment!”

Church access cleared for the wedding

… we hope! A big “thank you” to all the helpers.

And this is what it's like at Little Hampden and about noon!

Friday, 17 December 2010

An exciting weekend to look forward to

With bad weather forecast – and here – it's going to be an exciting weekend. We've had about 2 inches (OK, 5cm) of snow and it's now very cold – minus 6° C at Little Hampden. Tomorrow there's a wedding at Great Missenden and on Sunday, two Carol Services as well as the 10:00 communion. The forecast is for more snow tonight but it's not certain that it will come as far north as us. We've already cancelled the 8:00am service. With very heavy frost expected overnight it's unreasonable to expect people to travel early.

We've had an extra delivery of grit thanks to the council and are arranging a work party on Saturday morning to clear snow or spread grit or both. The wedding family have offered to help and have been making special arrangements to get guests up and down the hill.

The Dahl Foundation have their concert on Saturday evening. Their web site says they will be making a decision in the morning about whether to go ahead or not. I guess they'll cancel if we do have extra snow overnight.

Which leaves Sunday....

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas trees

A successful weekend – here are some images...
Rosie opening the festival

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Christmas Tree Festival

Preparations for the festival are well advanced and some lovely trees are already decorated. The festival opens tomorrow (Friday) evening from 7 to 9pm when the Choir will be singing and mulled wines and mince pies are available. Saturday opening times are 10am to 6pm and on Sunday the festival will open at 12:30pm. At 3pm the Sticna Youth Choir from Slvovenia will be giving a short concert.

Here are some of the preparations and trees – more tomorrow

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Nearly a week with no e-mail!

We managed to get away this week in spite of the weather. We were planning to visit Reims – for the Christmas Market and, of course, the champagne. The plan was to cross the channel on Tuesday and drive on to Reims – it's almost exactly 300 miles from home. However, the weather forecast on Sunday evening wasn't promising so we made a quick decision to zoom down to Dover on Monday afternoon and cross earlier on Tuesday. This turned out to be an excellent decision as Kent was probably virtually impassible by Tuesday.

More on the trip later – but I managed without any internet access for nearly a week. I missed a lot of excitement while concerts and services at Church were cancelled or changed – and I'm sorry to have left the rest of the staff with these difficulties but they seem to have managed very well without me. When I logged on today I had an inbox of about 280 e-mails. Quite a lot of junk was easy to get rid of and with some ruthless deletion I managed to get the list down to under 100.  That's about manageable so my first few days of finding time has been fairly successful – although I'm sure the rest of the Church team may not agree!

And Reims? Cold, the Christmas Market was as before: wonderful atmosphere but the usual mixture of stuff – I think the only thing we bought in the market was some mustard from a new local company. The fizz was great, of course and the fields of vines as extensive as ever. Not quite like these: 

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Advent is nearly here

… or has actually arrived – we had our Advent Carol service tonight. I've failed again to put together an Advent calendar but I'll try to post most days in December. I'll probably have to miss the first few days as we're away with no wifi access.

It's been a busy weekend. The Abbeyfield House in Missenden (a home for older people) held it's Christmas Opera Festival on Saturday. A week or so ago we realised that the High Street – and therefore the main access to the Church – was to be closed for the annual Dickensian Evening supported by the local council. I managed to negotiate with the School that we could offer additional access through the playground – provided we patrolled it. So Don and I met at 6:30 well padded against the cold (at least it was dry) and waited to help the audience through. However, the extra signage that the Abbeyfield people had provided seemed to work well and we had no takers! So once we saw that the road was reopened, we packed up and went to our warm homes.

The day had started with opening the Church and helping (watching!) Adey replace some bulbs in the Church. We're gradually changing over to energy saver bulbs although we have a stock of tungsten filament bulbs – I'm not sure what to do with these. Keeping them till they are no longer available and ebaying them at a profit for funds doesn't seem right! We took advantage of the scaffolding to replace some PAR bulbs with long-life ones. They claim 15,000 hours! We'll see (or maybe not)

This morning, I set up the projector and screen in Church only to be told 10 minutes before the service that it wasn't needed! We also had no-shows or late shows from a number of volunteers this morning. I think it's a symptom or the unstructured life everyone seems to lead these days. I'm not sure how to fix this: text reminders, asking people who swap to tell us are possibilities but it's all more work. I have before now identified the replacement lesson reader at Evensong by spotting someone who was poring over the bible before the start of the service.

The Little Hampden matins went well although was quieter than usual. Graeme played the new organ – including a lovely piece of Bach after the service. This evening's Advent Carol service was lovely, too, with Tricia and Carolyn leading quietly giving us time to contemplate. We had a slight disconnection at the end when the clergy left in one direction and the choir the other. But I don't think anyone minded. The mulled wine and mince pies – rather 11th hour – went down very well although I did manage to break a glass when helping Helen in the kitchen. Not enough damage, I think, to be banned in future!

So a busy but not particularly eventful weekend.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Leadership and teamworking – we tried tonight

As promised, we tried some of the lessons from Saturday at our full staff meeting tonight. The meeting, following the pattern from the previous one, was held over a simple bring and share supper. This in itself is a relaxing format, encouraging participation, albeit with some mouthful mumbling towards the start!

We started with two handouts: the first contained a vision statement and the Willow Creek quotation – see Saturday's blog. The vision had been developed several years ago and, although appearing on regular newssheets etc, is not at the front of people's minds. The second handout identified a set of leadership skills with the opportunity for each member to assess their standard on a scale of 1 to 10, together with a target score (which may be higher or lower than the current) and a space for an action plan to increase or decrease their current score by 1 point. We didn't spend much time on these: it was suggested that everyone has a go at scoring themselves after the meeting.

We also discussed the “Yes, and” concept – and I had provided a penalty box.

Then we got into the meat of the meeting (and the supper!) During the following 90 minutes or so we covered a number of significant issues with very wide-ranging discussion, mostly very much to the point. Everyone participated very openly and in general the debate was positive. We didn't use the penalty box in anger although there were a number of times when the discussion was nearer “yes, but” rather than “yes, and.” Nevertheless we came to a number of very positive decisions or agreed on a set of actions to resolve the issues.

After the meeting proper, I used a technique I have used with Young Enterprise when reviewing their progress: I asked each member to spend one minute recording what had gone well for them and what had gone badly. The comments were very encouraging. In summary, the following went well: covered lots, everyone participated, got results from discussions, fellowship, eye contact, open – no “under-table” chat, everyone was allowed to speak, plans of action, aims/vision clear, team effort; these were the 'went badly' items: diverted into unnecessary detail, wandering, got lost somewhere in choir discussion, talking over/2 meetings.

So, much more positive than negative. And in the more general comments I sensed that everyone thought it was a very good meeting. The only actions we could agree to build on the positives and fix the negatives were to have a published agenda for the next meeting, and for everyone to send items in for this ahead of the meeting.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


I've had a fascinating day at an Oxford Diocesan course “Leadership and All That Jazz” The premise of the course is that leadership skills and techniques can be learned from the world of music. Led by Alex Steele, the day was a mixture of discussions about management techniques and improvisations by a group of four jazz musicians. The first surprise was that Alex, a very polished jazz pianist had assembled three other players – drums, saxophone and double base – who had never performed together before. At first this seemed very high risk – but it worked very well at many levels.

The aim of the course was to use music as an example of various leadership techniques. This was very effective but for me there were two other benefits. The first was a simple one: breaking up what can be rather dry material with music made the day much more engaging. However, I picked up much more from the way the musicians operated than the points on the points they were trying to illustrate. Although they had never played together before the musicians formed a team with the clear aim of making music as guided by their leader Alex. The teamworking lesson for me was that members of the team must have a good understanding or their skills and how the interact, and must know what they are trying to achieve. Looking at some of the teams I work with, we're a long way from this.

There was an excellent quote from the bass player: “leave the ego at home and play for the band” Again, clear common aim and understanding how people relate together. Of course I'm sure this is rather simplistic. I'm sure there are competitive musicians who have an additional agenda, just as there are team players with an axe to grind. However, today, the way these four played together was a model.

The session where the players were deliberately restricted was interesting, too. The aim was to support the proposition “ make the most of what you're given” They tried – and succeeded – in playing with severe restrictions: pianist using left hand on black notes only, saxophone left hand only, bass in three strings and drummer using his feet. A real lesson in doing well in spite of difficulties – not as well as if there were none but still acceptable.

But the most meaningful lesson today was a quotation from a bok by Bruce Bugbee, Don Cousins, and Bill Hybells of the Willow Creek Community Church in the US: “The primary call and greatest expression of leadership does not lie in the exercise of the giftedness of the leaders but in the empowerment of God's people. Leaders understand that what they do is not as important as what they cause to be done through God's peopleas a result of the application of leadership gifts.”

We're going to try some of the ideas at Monday's staff meeting....

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Managing Volunteers

A few events of the last week or so have made me think again about how we manage volunteers. I spent many years living in the management system of one of the best managed companies – and some time developing and implementing parts of this management system. Yet we seem to ignore most of this in the volunteer sector. Risk management is a good example. The Health and Safety Executive and particularly the press have done a poor job in its handling of risk assessments. They have become the excuse for silly notices and inappropriate bureaucracy. Why don't owners of public buildings turn down the boiler thermostat rather than putting up notices next to hot taps warning about hot water?

The HSE has achieved enormous improvements in safety in the workplace – just look at the employee fatality statistics

See more at their web site here.

However we still get appalling 'accidents' like the death of Charlotte Shaw on the Ten Tors Challenge a few years ago – read a report of the inquest here. We seem unable to get people to have an awareness of risk and to modify their actions accordingly. I see it all the time: how often have you seen a walker or jogger on the right side of a road with no pavement not looking over his or her shoulder when a car approaches from behind? Or wearing earphones? The chance of being hit by the car is slim but the result could be fatal. Actually, with the way some drivers go round our lanes makes the chance greater than slim but that's another story.

I've even had a Young Enterprise company, planning to run an event in the school, tell me not to worry about the risk assessment because the office was going to do that! Were they not going to be aware of the risks themselves? I've also had a YE company when prompted produce a risk plan that was described by a colleague adviser as one of the most professional plans he had seen – and he worked for Am Int (GE Healthcare now) where they manage the risks of radioactive production!

It's not an easy area: I remember at work when we first tried to introduce an approach to risk management for use with our customers, the legal department tried to veto it “we can't suggest that there's any risk in implementing our systems” Common sense prevailed. We need an appropriate level of bureaucracy but most importantly we need to get people to be aware of risks and to manage them sensibly.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Another week on the canals

Blog silence for a couple of weeks... another week afloat. An outdoor holiday in the UK in November is a risk but we had several days with wonderful weather. The weekend was virtually cloud-free and not too cold.

We met our friend and were invited to lunch ashore by her brother. As our hosts were driving and collecting the friend and her husband for the next day, we suggested they join us for dinner on the Sunday. Only when we set off again did we think – 7 for dinner? Where will we all sit? Have we got enough plates? We were OK on the latter (and had plenty of food and drink aboard) and Brenda had an inspiration about seating arrangements.

On Sunday, we went up the Watford flight of locks with our friends. This flight consists of two normal locks at the bottom followed by a staircase of 4 locks, then a normal lock at the top. The staircase consists of four locks where the top gate of the first lock is the bottom gate of the next one. There are very large side pounds which keep the levels correct and very strict instructions to open the red paddles before the white ones. We managed without any mishaps.

The dinner went off well. On the Monday morning we woke to rain and wind. After about 2 hours of cruising the rain got much worse so we gave up, lit the stove and settled down to watch Mama Mia on the DVD! Big contrast to outside. The gas ran out at about 10pm – the boat has Calor gas cooking and a boiler for the radiators. We always carry a spare cylinder – but on this occasion, the screw thread on the replacement cylinder was damaged and we couldn't get it connected. And we were trying the right way – Calor gas cylinder connections have left-hand thread.

So next morning, Ian lit the stove again and we managed to boil a saucepan of water for coffee. Fortunately we found a marina that would exchange the faulty cylinder – the attendant turned out to be another Churchwarden known to our friend! Tuesday evening was spent in a splendid canal-side restaurant Edwards at Crick. Super food and wine; shame we were the only guests.

We went through 2 tunnels on the trip – the Braunston tunnel is 2042 yards long (1867M) There's no towpath but there is room to pass another boat – just!

The photo of the watford locks is from Stephen and Lucy's website -

Edwards at Crick -

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The best £10 for the appeal so far

Three youngsters came up to me in Church today with a donation for our appeal. Eleanor, Lottie and William got the idea after visiting the Roald Dahl Story Centre and Museum a few weeks ago. They made moneybox which they left near the Dahl grave in the Churchyard. They wrote a simple poem round the box and asked for donations for charity. The poem read “A Penny A Penny, anyone got a penny you could give it to me, out of genirosity. (You don't have to but it could be nice.)”

They decided to give the collection to the Appeal. Their pleasure when handing over their box was wonderful.

There was £2.28 plus €0.20 in the box. I told Eleanor and gang that I'd match their collection (fortunately there wasn't a cheque for £1000 in the bottom of the box) and our generous local donor will double this – making a total of £10!

Friday, 29 October 2010


Sue's Art Exhibition got off to a good start today.

The team had fun putting up the display boards this morning – any suggestions for what Sue and the team are saying?

Let's hope we get a good turnout tomorrow and Sunday.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Holy Land Pilgrimage

Not my material but there was a lot of interest in yesterday's descriptions of the recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land by members of our Church in the diocesan pilgrimage. The photos used yesterday can be seen by clicking on this image:

Here's Tricia's sermon from yesterday evening:


What does it mean to be a pilgrim? A journey to walk with Christ and to seek Him? Yes.
A journey to visit sites in the Holy Land and bring our worship in those sacred moments? Yes.
To leave inner self behind, live in the present and be open to the ever-changing scenes around us?
To be prepared ad not to be upset to find the inner-self changing...thoughts, impressions, ideas all impinging on our original selves? Yes.
To love and really love our “neighbours” whether residents of this Holy Land or visitors in their hundreds and thousands. Yes.

We were overwhelmed by the endless tourists visiting all the sites. There were coaches incredibly cleverly parked in narrow streets and car parks. (Our drivers were all excellent caring and expert people who managed to fling these large vehicles into tiny spaces.)
Everywhere there were long good natured queues standing in the boiling sun waiting to enter a site often with a security check first.

But we had tasks to do...getting from A to B from early morn to early was already getting dark by 5.30pm.
We had many special moments of worship in Churches, Basilicas, Caves, and Cathedral. With 116 + people there were many gorgeous voices singing in harmony often in very public spots! The crowds milling around sometimes stopped to listen, pray and worship alongside us.

But to be a pilgrim for most of us on this incredible journey was to have the privilege of meeting the 'Living Stones'...those who work, inspire, show extraordinary commitment, resilience to their particular passion. Some have shared their experiences with us, but we hope to give you all a fuller picture in November (23)

I felt that God was asking me to be empty..(I found this very hard as I longed to feel unending joy at being in this Holy Place.) Empty to listen; Empty to hear His voice and therefore to be led, probably, in time, to His longing for me.

We all had an extraordinary experience the Sunday we went to worship in St. Georges Cathedral in Jerusalem. The Bishop of Jerusalem and our Bishop John were presiding. The Service was in Aramaic. We were given a copy in English! It was similar to our own Eucharist and we recognised the parts of the Service we maybe able to join in. Also participating were a group of people from the World Council of Churches who came from countries around the world to be peacemakers at checkpoints, schools and in townships. They too spoke in many different languages. We reached the point where we could all join in saying the Lord's prayer in our own languages. It was a babel of prayer, exciting, thrilling and an uplifting Pentecostal moment. What power of the Holy Spirit moved in that place. What unity in liturgy brought people from around the globe together to worship our God, our Redeemer.

Yes, change was in the air. Bishop John was so right. Those sacred moments empower us to go out as His disciples to face settlements, the wall, people who need our love, help and support; families too who need to be able to eat, learn and be part of the human race without being ostracised.

This Parish alongside the whole Diocese raised over £5,000 to hand over to the 'Living Stones' we had had the fortune to meet, to enable them to continue their wonderful work. The overriding impression I have is the humility, generosity of spirit and total commitment of the 6 groups we came in touch with. ALL served people throughout that land whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, Arab, Greek Orthodox and so on. Our monies were handed over in person so we are all aware they are receiving a little help from us. Now it enables us to keep in touch with these remarkable people.

One of the heart rendering sights we could see from our bedroom window in Bethlehem was the new Jewish settlement on the hilltop across the valley. There were no water tanks on the top of their buildings, unlike the lower buildings who only receive water three times a week. It was these and many other facts given to us that found ourselves asking “ where does that leave us in such a world?” We have so much, we do not live in an occupied land which causes such hardship and difficulty.

Nevertheless, we were received with such kindness and joy in Bethlehem. We met a lovely family in Manger Square who ran a small business which had been handed down through the generations.
They sold olive wood statutes, cards trinkets etc. Their son had been in the UK but felt he must return to Bethlehem and continue the family business. He wanted us to know that as an Arab Christian he was needed to remain in Palestine. Too many of the young people are emigrating .
He said “ I must remain to encourage others so we might grow in strength”.

This journey has been an experience of a lifetime upon which I ponder daily. I thank God for the insights I have been given; the happy times such as swimming in the Sea of Galilee after a long day out; the trip on the boat as Jesus did and yet being face to face with the wall, the settlements and listening to stories of hardship and pain.
Christ lived in an occupied land, he walked with the poor; he knew anguish. He died that we might have life. He gave us hope for the present moment.
All the Christians worship daily, weekly, offering prayer, as we do, for their release to walk with Christ and bring hope to all people.
Worship underpinned all we did and gave us the energy, joy and strength to move on.

Mitri, our Palestinian Arab Lutheran Christian pastor wrote in the final chapter of his first book,”I am a Palestinian Christian”;I have a dream of two peoples who live side by side in peace with on another, so do not need to waste vast resources on weapons which will rust away. What a blessing this would be for the Middle East. What a seductive oasis could be created here attracting all nations. Piece by piece what Micah wrote would be fulfilled;”

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be established as the highest of
the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come
and say;
'Come, let us go up the
mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the
God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.'
For out of Zion shall go forth
instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall sit under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

Micah 4; 1-4


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Ely – first pictures

We've just had a couple of days in Ely and the surroundings. First pictures of the Ship of the Fens and the city:

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


The navy is still going. I received two Local Notices to Mariners from Queen's Harbour Master, Portsmouth today:



No 45/10


  1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth that a Nuclear Powered Submarine will visit Portsmouth Harbour between the 23rd October and the 28th of October 2010.
  2. Timings (including a closed channel) will be promulgated by the usual movements signal.
  3. Mariners are advised that the Submarine whilst on passage between the Nab Tower and its berth is considered “a vessel constrained by her draught” as defined under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. Escorting tugs will display the appropriate signals for a vessel constrained by her draught. Vessels are to avoid taking any action that will impede her safe passage. LNTM 40/05 (Dormant Exclusion Zone for Underway Warships) will be enforced for this vessel during her transit into and out of harbour.
  4. Police craft will be in attendance with the Submarine to enforce the requirements of this Local Notice to Mariners. They will be clearly identifiable and will be acting on the authority of the Queens Harbour Master. All vessels are to comply with their instructions. Mariners attention is also drawn to LNTM 28/07 (Keep Clear of Warship Berths) regarding the mandatory 100 metres exclusion zone whilst submarines are alongside in the harbour.
  5. Cancel this Local Notice To Mariners Fri 29th Oct 2010 (9 days)



No 46/10


  1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth that commencing Monday 25 October through Thursday 28 October 2010 a Naval Exercise involving major Warships will be taking place in the Eastern Solent and to the east and south of the Isle of Wight.
  2. A large part of the Exercise will be conducted between two major Warships in the vicinity of Stokes Bay and the beach at Browndown, with two Frigates and a Patrol Boat also in attendance for parts of the exercise. The exercise will be conducted during daylight hours only and will include a number of Rotary Wing Aircraft, Landing Craft and other small boats operating between the Warships in the vicinity of Stokes Bay and to or from the foreshore at Browndown. The firing of blank ammunition will take place for some of the exercises. There will also be some activity to the east of the Isle of Wight involving high speed craft and the firing of blank ammunition.
  3. Mariners are reminded of the requirement to remain at least 50 metres clear of any Warship at anchor as stipulated in the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005 and repeated in LNTM 28/07 (Keep Clear of Warship Berths). For the duration of the exercise, this Exclusion Zone is extended to include all Landing Craft and associated Military Vessels transiting between the vessels in the vicinity of Stokes Bay and to or from the shoreline.
  4. Extreme care is to be taken when approaching the Area of operations and QHM Harbour Control is to be informed of any immediate concerns.
  5. For the duration of the Naval Exercise QHM Harbour Control will be kept informed of the area of operations and may be contacted on VHF Ch 11 or by telephoning 02392 723689 for the latest information.
  6. Cancel this Local Notice To Mariners Fri 29th Oct 2010 (9 days)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Silence for a couple of weeks: a week afloat and several days catching up. Is it really the run up to Christmas? And I still have nearly 200 e-mails in the inbox! Still, they'll be there tomorrow.

One suggestion I've had for Advent is based on the local Roman Catholic churches' activity: The Immaculate Heart of Mary, Great Missenden and St Anne's in Wendover have a giving tree. This is a bare branch on which are gift labels each bearing a gift idea. Great Missenden collects for the homeless looked after at Christmas at Emmaus House in Acton so ideas might be underpants , toothbrushes, socks etc whilst St Anne's sponsor Aylesbury Refuge and ideas might be children's colouring book and crayons for a 5 year old, coloured pencils or felt tips, or talcum powder or hand cream for the mums. We take a label, buy the gift wrap it up in fancy paper,tie the label back on and return it laying it beneath the tree. In that way it is quite clear what is in the parcel and so can be given to the appropriate person. Could you do something similar for your Wycombe night refuge and make this an activity for a day of your Advent calendar?
I attended a Churchwarden's day on Saturday. Lots of ideas, and the opportunity to meet others and see their problems and solutions. In Bishop Alan's session 'Sustaining the Sacred Centre' I was reminded of the lent activities suggested by him and Archdeacon Karen for Lent – I tried some of these last year. There may be some ideas for Advent here:

From David's Blog

So keep the suggestions coming. It's your chance to challenge me with some fun activities! Keep them in the spirit of Making Time for Christmas.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Advent challenge

Two years ago I started this blog by following Bishop Steven Cottrell's book 'Do Nothing for Christmas' This had a suggested activity for each day of Advent – the book was subtitled 'an Advent Calendar with a Difference' Having a set of things to do was great – and I think a number of readers tried themselves while following the blog. I also tried some of the Lenten activities suggested by Bishop Alan and Archdeacon Karen this year – but they were not on a prescribed calendar.

So here's the challenge: can you provide me with 24 things to do in the run up to Christmas?  I think they should be in the spirit of making time for Christmas: many of the Cottrell suggestions were about standing back from the rush and commercialisation.  I'll have the final choice, of course, assuming I get enough suggestions, but within reason, I'll try anything! Some of the Christmas '08 suggestions have stuck: I still keep in touch with the Wycombe Winter Night Shelter and shall be supporting them, with your help, in the new year. We haven't managed to meet up with my ex-work friend recently but it's still on my todo list.

So let me have your suggestions. Post them as comments here, e-mail me, phone, text or whatever. If you're not sure how to post there's a simple guide in one of the links to the right. I hope I'll collect enough during October to put a calendar together in November ready to start on 1st December.

Stonework continues

Work on the stonework around the clerestory windows continues. Glen reports no significant problems identified so far – good news!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Help or bureaucracy?

I've been pondering about developing some simple guidelines to making things happen – prompted by the need to run fundraising events at Church efficiently. I had in mind a checklist of activities or a skeleton plan for running an event. However, I was concerned that this may be interpreted as overkill rather than a help. This conflict was highlighted by two consecutive items on Today today. [I'm sorry about my R4 addiction!] The first was about how the police are spending less time on the streets because of bureaucratic form-filling. The second was about the accommodation for the Commonwealth Games and how the Indian contractors have completely ignored any good practices and so roofs fall in and bridges collapse. You can listen to the two clips here and here.

Surely the sensible position is somewhere between these two extremes. Is it a cultural problem that workers in the public sector focus on the process rather than the results? 'Health and Safety' gets a lot of bad press but, as an example, the death rate amongst construction workers has reduced significantly as a result of safer working conditions – 21% fewer deaths in the year ending 31 March 2010 than the previous year. Should we be complacent about 151 deaths? Are the public sector workers too caught up with the politicians who regularly talk in evasive language. When they say 'we must learn the lessons' from a less than successful project, do they say what the lessons are? Have you ever heard what these lessons are? They talk of 'outcomes' – which can be interpreted as anything and probably will be when they are challenged in the future.

So I'll attempt to produce a simple one-page pro-forma for a plan to make things happen and try it out.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Southampton Boat Show

We went to the Southampton boat show yesterday. It was a beautiful day for wandering round the show which is on the waterfront and includes lots of boats afloat. There wasn't much evidence of the recession with vast FGPs and big expensive sailing boats. However we heard that Sunseeker had been rescued and that Broom had ceased building boats.

We were looking at the other extreme! We were amused by this Starfish children's dinghy – only 5 feet in length. Perhaps for the grandchildren in a while.

We were looking for a replacement for our old dinghy which had gone missing – probably children playing on the jetty. I'd spotted a likely candidate – actually made by the same company as the Starfish – but when we saw it we realised it would be much too heavy to manhandle on the jetty. We then spotted the Walker Bay. This was light to handle, looked like a real boat and had the bonus of having a simple sail so we could potter in the evenings and perhaps introduce the grandchildren to sailing.

When we arrived at home. Little Hampden was looking it's usual beautiful self – with the leaves just turning.