Thursday, 31 March 2011

Walk - and birthday conundrum

I managed ‘Walk a route you would normally drive’ today - instead of driving up to Church on the way to Young Enterprise at the Misbourne I parked in school and walked up. Not a big deal, I don’t think. I suppose I should have walked all the way from Little Hampden - but that’s too challenging.

I’ve also started collecting science experiments for Zone Plus. We’re going to try a Foucault’s Pendulum in the tower. I’m also going to try the birthday conundrum. We’ll ask people on Church on Sunday morning to record their birthdays (not the year - that wouldn’t be fair!) We’ll then use a random selection of these to see how many are needed to to find two with the same birthday. Statistically, the chances are 50% with 23 people. I’ve tried it a number of times and always done better than this. The students in this year’s YE company - 22 of them - are a good example. There is one pair of twins which I don’t think counts but there are two other matching birthdays. If you’re on Facebook, next time it’s one of your friend’s birthdays, look at all of them. You have to have enough friends, of course! I have several matches in mine, not just the twins.

There’s a link on the Zone plus website to more information.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Slow down

Another busy day but I managed to “Slow down and savour an experience” today. Walking down to Louise to do her CRB identity check I met Mark our local architect. We ambled down the lane, chatting about the projects that he’s still getting with the local schools, and the East wall of Little Hampden Church which may be moving sightly. Not very consequential but very enjoyable!

I’ve known Louise for several years  since she’s been living in the village but in spite of this I had to check her address on the form against a bank statement: best to follow the instructions!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Disconnected day

Today I succeeded to “Limit myself to checking e-mails only once” I have to admit this was mainly because of time pressures. This morning, as well as the services at Gt Missenden and Little Hampden, we had a group of cyclists visiting St Peter & St Paul. They were part of a sponsored cycle ride from Westminster Abbey to Islip. The ride was organised by the village; the proceeds are being slit equally between the local school and a new screen, designed by Nicholas Mynheer in the tower of the Church of St Nicholas at Islip. More details on the village web site: The cyclists were stopping at SSPP for refreshments (bacon butties) and an opportunity to view our screen - also designed by Nicholas Mynheer, of course.

We also had two baptisms so the Church was full and parking busy. The cyclists were entering the Churchyard by the top gate so we had to stop cars leaving by this way. There wasn’t too much overlap and we managed to allow the worshipers to leave and the cyclists to arrive with no incidents!

The afternoon was spent with all the grandchildren - putting out fires with the hose (water turned off) riding round on tractors, trying out scooters, eating yesterday’s cakes and similar. No time for e-mail. I had to leave early to have a quick visit to Young Enrerprise presentation day. The Misbourne students I’ve been advising didn’t win anything but seemed pleased with what they had achieved. Then a fascinating Lent Forum session with Dr Neil Suggett.

But back to no e-mails (or virtually none) I’ve commented before about how the improved communications we have today don’t actually improve things. Is it because we’re overloaded? Is it because a letter was significant (still is) but an e-mail is trivial? Is it a case of less is more?

In her April letter to the Church Mag, Rosie raises the issue of the Church in the digital era.  There are similar points and more - how do we engage people? Are we moving to an e-church? There’s one of these already! Have a look at

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Another week

It looks as if I’ve given up blogging - perhaps for Lent! I haven’t achieved much in week 2 of the Love Life Live Lent suggestions and now it’s week 3. I think I can claim “Slow down and savour an experience” We’ve had the grandchildren with us today and I think I’ve spent some time with them. I didn’t help much with the cake making this afternoon - apart from trying out the cakes! The morning was great - warm and sunny - and we had fun filling the bird feeder. We had to chase the squirrel away from the feeder later.

Wonderful sunsets yet again a couple of days ago. Another blessing to be thankful for.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Another busy few days...

So much for completing all the Love Life... activities! 

We had some friends for dinner last evening. Brian has given up alcohol for lent! We thought of declaring it a Sunday but he was very determined in spite of temptation from the rest of us. I was pleased that I was trying ... Live Lent rather than giving up.

Sunday? If you do the count, Sundays are not included in the 40 days but I think of you give something up for Lent that should include every day - what do you think?

Although it’s been very busy, lots of people have been very supportive so this is one of the “3 blessings of the day and be thankful

Monday, 14 March 2011


I know it’s not in the book, but today was such a wonderful day, I’m sure it’s in the spirit of Love Life Live Lent just to enjoy and give thanks for the beauty around us.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lancaster, Morcambe and queues

On Friday I decided to try ‘Give up your place in a queue to someone else’ but with the day we had planned - a walk to see some limestone pavement and an afternoon in Morcambe - this seemed quite a challenge. However, I was driving so I managed to let lots of people out of side roads - the traffic in Lancaster is quite heavy - and let several cars pass me when we were pottering through the lanes. I think this counts?

The morning walk was to Fairy Steps, through the woods and across areas of limestone pavement. The myth of Fairy Steps is that if you can climb to the top without touching the sides, the fairies will grant your wish. Needless to say, no wishes were granted.

Limestone pavements are being preserved because of the unique flora they support. There’s a web site -

In the afternoon we visited the newly-restored Midland Hotel at Morcambe. The hotel was the last railway hotel, built in 1933. It had been left to decay until a developer saw the potential. The restoration has certainly been expensive. There is some remaining Eric Gill artwork in the hotel - a frieze in reception, a map in one of the larger rooms and a painting over the wonderful circular staircase. We didn’t get any pictures but there are lots on the web and if you’re a fan of Poirot, you’ll see it in more than one episode. There’s also a website about the restoration

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Lancaster - and no lunch

Today I managed ‘Skip  meal and give the money to a charity working overseas’ - with the rest of the team enjoying  good pub lunch! I’ll put the cost into the Water Aid jamjar when I get home.

We did Lancaster today - the Ashton Memorial, a piece of imperial architecture at the top of the town given by the linoleum magnate in 1904.

We also visited the Priory Church of St Mary.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Lancaster and first Lent activity

We’re up in Lancaster with friends for a few days - which will make completing the Love Life Live Lent activities a challenge! I think the best I can do today is to say something nice about someone behind their back!

We’ve only just arrived in Lancaster but went down to look at the John Rennie Aqueduct taking the Lancaster Canal over the river. It’s being restored at considerable expense - today they had started filling it up again after repairing and repointing the stonework. Seeing the stone channel taking the canal across the aqueduct was interesting - normally these aren’t visible because they are full of water.

Lancaster is a cycling town - here’s one for Helen:

And here are some pictures of the aqueduct:

The aqueduct from the riverbank

The aqueduct from the towpath

The trough in the aqueduct

Ian's paper mill
Old and new industry

Adrian’s amazing deer - and lent starts

Lent starts tomorrow (actually today - it’s 00:37 on Wednesday) I’m going to try to do some of the activities in the Love Life Live Lent book. Archdeacon Karen is following the Christian Aid activities on her blog

Adrian, our local artist blacksmith at Little Hampden forge had made a fantastic full-sized deer (a proper one, not one of these miniature muntjacs) out of horseshoes:

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Women’s World Day of Prayer and Lent is coming

Friday was the Women’s World Day of Prayer. The service was developed by the women of Chile - the WWDP use a different country each year. The service, led by Tricia and Carolyn from our Church, was well attended although there were only two other males! Carolyn had asked women from local Churches to read the stories from the Chilean women and although sitting in the comfort and security of a Gt Missenden church Chile seemed very remote, some of their difficulties came through. The theme of the service ‘How many loaves have you?’ is based on the women sharing of bread amongst their friends and bread is eaten at every meal and is very much part of every day life.

The local service was held in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Great Missenden. This is the second service recently that I’ve attended here - we held our midnight service on Christmas eve there because of the snow. While the modern building is very different from traditional Churches, I find it quite inspirational. The interior is very simple with plain brick walls pierced by wall-to-ceiling rectangular windows. The Altar is at the West end which, I think, is unusual. Apparetly (if you believe the information on the web) the east-facing altars were an early Catholic tradition because Jesus’s second coming was expected in the east. However, the flat ceiling rising towards the altar provides a focus for the interior of the building.

The painting of the crucifixion over the altar (shown above with Chilean flags) is by local artist Paul Stevenson. I had found his work a few years ago when I was talking at an Age Concern coffee morning trying to persuade them that the web had lots of fascinating and interesting info. When I first saw the crucifixion, I thought it might be by Stevenson and I was able to confirm this on Friday. Paul sadly died recently but some of his work is on display on the Storm Fine Arts web site here. There’s a short note by the artist himself on the web site of the local Great Missenden art gallery One Church Street.

Interestingly one of the paintings on the Storm Fine art web site is of Llawhaden Castle which I visited many times from home in Tenby. It is one of the castles in the line that separates little England from the rest of Wales which explains why I don’t speak Welsh! Originally built as a fortified palace for the Bishop of St David’s - rather different from current Bishops’ homes! 

Lent starts next week. I’m going to try to follow the Love Life Live Lent booklet which has suggested activities for each week. Inspired by the visit to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I’ll also try to visit as many Churches during Lent: I won’t manage to get to many services because of duties at Great Missenden and Little Hampden but I’ll try to report on their design and the spiritual feeling they bring. The Bucks Historic Churches trust's book Bucks’ Favourite Churches is a starter.