Sunday, 31 December 2006

The gate of the year

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: "Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!" And he replied: "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."

Darkness has fallen on this New Year’s Eve, and shortly I shall be walking across the road and down the gravel path to take the Watchnight Compline in St. Margaret’s church. The candles will be lit, and we shall sit in their warm glow and sing “Here we come a-wassailing” and “Deck the halls” – perhaps a bit secular, but these traditional songs speak of the New Year and so are fitting for the occasion.

And what of my New Year resolutions? Well, my main one is to regain my fitness. When I was in post in the large Midlands Potteries city I had access to all sorts of sporting facilities. I swam once and often twice a week, and played badminton weekly, but since moving down here to this rural location the opportunities are limited. The nearby town has a swimming pool, which local wags consistently rename on the direction signs “Swim_in Poo_”, which is quite descriptive. When I’ve been there on the late night public swimming times the pool has always been full of corpulent ladies of the female sex resting after their hour-long “aqua-robics” session, and standing around in the Shallow End nattering, thus preventing anyone from doing decent lengths. I haven’t been for ages.

But, surrounded as I am by glorious countryside, there’s no real excuse. All I have to do is put on my walking boots and stride out of the door. There’s a straight-forward road walk of a mile to the Brewery and pub at St. Peter’s, but then I’d have to buy a mug of their ale for the return journey, which wouldn’t do me any good at all.

Or there’s a circular route that takes me across several fields and back towards the village at the rear of the Old Vicarage. It’s a good circuit, but not that long. I shall need to study the footpath map a bit more and find an extension.

Maybe the resolution should be, rather than regain my fitness, to get out and do a walk, anywhere. Having tramped over 360 miles through France a decade or so ago, I know how well regular walking takes the weight off, and how it tones the muscles. I just need to get up and do it.


“So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night, And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

From “The Desert” 1908
Minnie Louise Haskins 1876 - 1957

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Three French Hens

With Christmas Day now past, the 12 days of the Feast roll onward. Today there are three French Hens perched outside my study window as I draw together the prayers for the Feast of Holy Innocents tomorrow, and our opportunity to commemorate lost children whose days on earth were short-lived. In these small communities I know of about 12 families who have undergone such a loss, but I do not impose this remembrance upon then by including the names of their children without their knowledge or consent. As it is, I so far have two names to read out, one being that of my mother’s infant sister who only lived a few days. Up until about five years ago, when I did some research at the Family History Centre in London, my mother never knew why her sister died, but when I located and obtained a copy of the death certificate, it was revealed. No major surprises as it was due to illness, but to a certain extent it provided closure on that episode of her past. And this is the purpose of all remembrance – not so much to hear the names again, though this is valuable, but to complete the circle - to recognise the loss and thereby to rob it of its power.

In a way, the remembrance of Christ’s birth at Bethlehem closes a circle, and begins it again. The annual cycle of Christian Feasts and Festivals take us from before the birth, through the life, death and resurrection, and onward into the operations of the Holy Spirit, who has been there from the beginning, and who therefore was there with the Word that is made flesh, and so on ….

In this yearly celebration of light in darkness, the remembrance is strongest for those who see beyond the commercialism and secularisation and look to the manger throne. For those of us who can see the significance of this birth, Christmas is more than just remembrance. It’s part of the cycle of faith in our own lives that gives meaning to who and what we are. We are more than mere fireflies, here for a span and then extinguished in the dark. We have a significance that is greater than the sum of our parts. Our existence is bound up with the Word that is the light and life of all people, and which the darkness cannot overwhelm, no matter what human losses are suffered along the way.

Three French Hens sing their Trinitarian song for this season of festivities. Tomorrow the Four Calling Birds will invite us to the Eucharist, and along with the Innocents and other lost children we shall remember and celebrate the gift of God’s only-begotten Son.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

The fog has lifted ....

... and with just a light mist it's definitely warmer!
No need to light the fire in the study today, and tonight the outside lights will be visible to passers-by!

Friday, 22 December 2006

Frost on my baubles

Wonderful wintry weather these last few days. Freezing fog, which although it's brought chaos to the airports and domestic flights, has created some wonderful natural effects on the trees and bushes. The outside lanterns in the garden are all covered in rime and although it means that I have to "spot-heat" the rooms I'm using in the house (it's down to 9 degrees C in the kitchen at present!) it's seasonal and pretty. With another Carol service tonight (and the last one tomorrow), the atmosphere of Christmas is growing. A glass of mulled wine, a mince pie and warm clothing, and not a humbug in sight.

Monday, 18 December 2006

A great and mighty wonder

The Christmas Feast is thundering upon us, and life seems to be one long preparation at present. I have managed to get my Christmas sermons written today (Midnight Mass and Christmas morning) as well as one for this coming Sunday morning (Advent 4). Plus I've put together a short address for a funeral on Wednesday. Past compilations and resources have helped, but they still have to be edited and adjusted to make them relevant to the setting and time.

The Feast itself may be timeless, but our understanding and appreciation of it changes with every year. At times it's the theme of the Logos that seems to be central - this year it's the reality of the stable birth that is coming to the fore - the general ordinariness of the shepherds, their language and sheepy aroma - that is on my mind. God incarnate in the ordinary, in the unprepared, in the temporary. And still we are not ready to receive Him.

I have a child's poetry book that I remember from my early years, entitled "If Jesus came to my house". It goes through how we would welcome him, and what we would offer as hospitality. It could be quite an effective reading at a Carol service, and I may use it next year.

The weather has turned cold today, and since I was going to be in my study most of the day writing the sermons, I lit the fire. I very rarely use that fireplace, but it's been lovely and cosy, and visually it has made it look like Christmas. As a cleric I find it hard to capture the feeling of the season, being caught up in preparing worship so that others may encounter the holy amidst the secular merriment. But that's all part of the calling, and so long as I keep in mind the reason for it all, then I do manage to enjoy it on a personal level as well.

So three more Carol services to lead - more mince pies to consume, and hopefully more mulled wine to warm the cockles. That was one of the benefits of my recent retreat to the English Convent in Brugge, the availability of the warm wine in the bars of the city. The first one I had was incredibly potent, and kept me nicely heated on the walk back to the Convent with a tray of chips and mayonnaise. It's a great city to visit in all seasons, but pre-Christmas it's really rather special.

Now with darkness falling the fog is rising off the Waveney valley and the temperature is dropping fast. Time to put a couple of baked potatoes into the oven for tonight's supper.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Pinch, punch ...

... another tradition is to yell "White Rabbits" at the top of your voice as soon as you wake up! Neither practice is particularly neighbourly.

I see that the first big winter storm is heading across the northern US as we prepare for a bit of a blow tomorrow and Sunday. Chicago was forecast 6-10 inches of snow! We're just wet and windy. It can't be anything I've eaten either. I had lunch out today with someone, and they had French onion soup, so I don't give much for their chances this weekend!

I host the regular monthly Benefice Coffee Morning tomorrow. Marmalade is all made and labelled. Parmesan and sun-dried tomato rolls have just been baked, and the house smells wonderful. I have more pots of preserves to put out on the Sales table, along with lots of other items, and with 15 prizes in the Raffle (and quite good ones as well since it's the Christmas "do") we should get a respectable result. The weather doesn't put off the "punters", and like bees round a honey pot, they'll be scrabbling at the table looking for bargains.

I blame my parents. I was brought up helping out at church Jumble Sales, so the whole ethos of collecting stuff to sell and then selling it is deeply ingrained into my understanding of what it means to be an Anglican church. I was clothed from those jumble sales for several years, until I began to have some money of my own. I was never allowed a pair of jeans, and I was probably 16 before I had any. I have a slightly blurred photo of myself climbing up a hillside in the Campsie Fells near Milngavie in Scotland around that time, and I'm wearing denims, with turn-ups that must be 9 inches or more! What style!

The promised wind will probably bring down most of the remaining apples. I have a dozen fruit trays full of them standing in the garage at the moment. I shall have to see if I can shift some of them tomorrow, or else make tons of chutney.

Somehow I don't think that Advent preparation means preparing fruit.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Blow ye winds and crack your cheeks

The first gale of the winter (and indeed for the year) is threatening to blast the cobwebs away this night. It's 12.50 a.m. as I write, and the wind is picking up outside. Leaves are swirling, and there's a continual drumming from the garden as the rosy-red apples fall from the two old trees onto the lawn. (For lawn read moss!) The Met Office is predicting gust of up to 70 mph in the early hours, so we'll see what happens. We'll also discover if the new roof on the house is fixed and watertight. I don't fancy picking up broken tiles as well as apples in the morning. I hope the apple trees survive. One of them has a hollow trunk and main branch. I have no idea how it keeps producing such a crop as we've had this year, but it does. It's bound to snap off one of these days, but hopefully not yet. It's a lovely shape and there's a small stone buddha sitting at its base that gives the garden a peaceful ambience. If the main branch comes down, the eastern mystic will get a nasty crack on the head!

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Lo, he comes

The Coffee Morning made over £90 for our Benefice funds, and all but one jar of marmalade was sold. The Remembrance Sunday service was very well attended with more than 80 people, including the local Sea Cadets who brought their Standard. And now we turn our eyes towards Advent and the swift journey to Bethlehem.

However, our Bethlehem will have little in common with today's Bethlehem. No shepherds out on the hillsides watching over the flocks by night - they wouldn't be able to get through the Israeli concrete wall that divides the city. Plenty of room at the Inn though, since the tourists can't get there. Any bunch of angels that decide to hover over the fields singing "Glory to God in the highest" had better take care, or they'll be shot down by Israeli tanks. Not much "Peace on Earth" there this year .....

I've all but finished my Christmas shopping. Just two or three more items to find, and then I shall have to get down to the wrapping, especially the ones that are being posted. I never leave the buying until the last moment - in fact I start putting things away for the next Christmas in the January sales. Sad, isn't it.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Hubble bubble ...

Right, that's another batch of 3-fruit marmalade made in readiness for the monthly Coffee Morning on Saturday. I get moaned at if I don't have any for sale, and as I was down to the last 2 pots, I had to get cooking. It's done with ruby grapefruit this time as the nearest Tesco didn't have the yellow variety, and it makes a slight difference to not only the colour but to the set. However, all seems to have worked well, and althought the jars are still warm at the time of writing, I'm sure the preserve will be firm when they've cooled down.

And it's not just the jars that will cool down tonight. It's been a bit of a chilly day, and autumn has certainly established itself. Leaves are swirling in the gusts of strong wind that presage another hefty rain shower, although the apples on my two old trees are still grimly hanging on. If previous years are anything to go by, they'll still be there come Christmas. Trouble is, apple sauce doesn't really go with turkey.

All Souls Day, and the annual Remembrance of the Departed service should now be drawing to its conclusion in Flixton Church. This seems to be attracting greater numbers each year, so it will be interesting to get the feedback on tonight's liturgy. With the opportunity to light candles, and the names of all those whose funeral services we have conducted over the past 12 months, as well as additional names people want mentioned, those who attend feel that they have not only remembered but also participated. The simple symbolic action of lighting a small candle becomes quite profound for them. It's the old educational adage in action ... "I hear and I forget - I see and I remember - I do and I understand." It doesn't bode well for our sermonising, but we all know the power of visial aids, and if people have done something as well, more of the meaning of what was being celebrated is bound to be passed on.

Sunday is November 5th and the annual celebration of Guy Fawkes and his failed attempt to blow up the English Parliament. If I'm to hold to the above tenet, then perhaps I should let off some fireworks from the pulpit. I wonder if that needs a Faculty?

Monday, 30 October 2006

Chilly and chilli

Standing at my open study window, sipping a freshly-made espresso, I look out on a day turned grey. It's not cold, but the weathermen forecast a change tomorrow as fresher winds blow down from the north and the first frosts of autumn may arrive.

I've sorted out the duvets and decided the time has come to switch the 11.5 Tog for the 13.5 one. I've had friends stay for the weekend, and as I coped with washing the bedding today I took the opportunity to check what was on each bed and cull the spare duvets that fill one of the cupboards in my bedroom. I also need to sort through the bedding, for I seem to have piles of sheets and duvet covers that never get used, as well as a growing mountain of pillow cases.

This was not the case in France a couple of weeks ago. I carefully packed the bedding for the three of us, and it was only as we unpacked at the Gite that I discovered that I'd not taken any sheets. It was a quick trip to the local E. Leclerc hypermarket the next day to remedy the omission. Therefore I now have three more sheets in the airing cupboard! (And just what does the initial E stand for in the Leclerc name? We've had a tradition of some 20 years of calling him "Eddie Leclerc", but as good as it sounds it won't be right.)

The trip was relaxing, and an opportunity to revisit some sights and see new ones. I descended into the depths of the earth at the Gouffre de Padirac again, complete with its 450 or so steps down into the main cave, and then its boat trip across the underground lake. I trod the paths of Rocamadour once more, and found that the Chapel of the Black Madonna had been cleaned, and much of the candle soot removed. Unfortunately, along with the darkness has gone some of the atmosphere. I went into the church of St. Andre at Monflanquin to find it too had been cleaned, as had the Abbey at Fontrevaud where lie the tombs of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Richard Couer de Lion. I also managed to get into the Castle at Bonaguil which I have only observed before. This was the village where, many years ago, the local restaurant owner came over a chatted incessantly to us as we were eating. She wanted to practise her English, and we were the recipients. She asked us to return. We never did.

Now within a week of returning home the clocks have changed and the dusk rushes upon us. A fortnight ago the evenings were still reasonably light and we were walking around in shirtsleeves. Now I've changed the duvets and the fleece is out. So the world turns and the seasons change. Summer salad gives way to winter veg. Baked potato and chilli-con-carne was on the menu this last weekend for my guests. It was good, and there was enough left to put two tubs into the freezer. As the land cools down it will be a welcome supper.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Descent into hell

The holiday is over and it's back to reality. Not that France is imaginary, but a period of relaxation away from the routine is always somewhat unreal. The restrictions or constrictions of time and place are no longer there - the regular tasks are several hundred miles away, and this time my mobile phone refused to allow me to make any calls. Even though "roaming" was set up on it, as soon as I touched foreign soil it began to turn itself on and off like a yo-yo. Even when it found a French network and recognised it, as soon as a text arrived it shut down.

After a week of motoring on the blessedly empty roads of the Aquitaine, the return journey was a descent into the maelstrom. The ferry from St. Malo to Portsmouth was fine. Travelling the Channel in late October is very pleasant. The ships are not crowded, the weather can be exciting (though our sailings both out and back were like crossing a mill-pond), and the longer voyage allows you to read, watch a film, take a leisurely meal, and generally close-down the vacation in a civilised fashion.

Then it's back to the English road system and traffic.

At Guildford on the A3 we met the first traffic jam, caused by an accident up ahead. No information available, just queues of cars and lorries crawling up the hill and down the other side. That was an hour's delay.

Then there was the stop at a well-known restaurant chain for a break and light supper. The coffee was vile, the food cold, and the service laughable. I have put in a complaint to the Company and we'll see what their response is. Whatever, I shall now avoid those establishments in future.

And so to the M25, clockwise.

Delays were signposted for Junctions 10-13. We joined the motorway at Junction 10 and were immediately into the crawling queue. It would have been quicker to walk. It took almost an hour to reach Junction 11, where we speedily left and scurried our way through the Outer London suburbs of Staines and Windsor, passing over the M25 a couple of times to check on its progress. By Junction 15 it was clear, and we rejoined to make our way to the M11.

With two stops for a snooze, we arrived home at 3.00 a.m., the journey from Portsmouth taking a total of 8 hours! I could have travelled from St. Malo to the Aquitaine in that time.

At least our lanes here in the wilds of rural north-west Suffolk remain fairly empty. It's still a pleasure to drive around the villages, despite the occasional tractor or beer-delivery lorry.

Ah well, back to the real world. Perhaps I'll make myself a mug of French hot chocolate as compensation.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

The simple way

The Feast of St. Francis, and I find myself in a reflective mood, pondering the multitude of possessions I have and the simplicity of lifestyle espoused by the blessed son of Assisi. Where has it all come from? Every room in this four-bedroomed house is filled with furniture, oddments, pictures and the like. The cupboards are full with items I have held on to from years past, and every time I go out I come back with something else.

This last Monday I actually managed to throw away a piece of artwork I did back in 1972. I had never displayed the canvas, and the oil paint was beginning to chip, so I decided it was time for it to go. The picture showed a large cross with what was described at the time as "the white tornado" (from a TV advert for a cleaning product) spiralling up from the top. It was meant to signify the release of the Spirit at the moment of the physical death of Jesus, but it never really worked. I did display it at the Greenbelt Festival in the mid-1970's when they had an Art Tent, but since then it has languished in one cupboard after another. Now it has gone to the tip, and I'm not too bothered.

In the parish of Ilketshall St Lawrence another old painting has received a new lease of life, for we have had the old Coat of Arms restored. It arrived back today and I have yet to see it, but judging by the photographs of the work done to it, I shall not be disappointed. It was in a parlous state, with badly flaking paint and much of the design indecipherable. It shows the Royal Arms of George II, and carries a re-painting date of 1840. Presumeably the original fell apart and a replacement was commissioned. Now it enters its third incarnation, and will be proudly displayed for all to see for another hundred years or so.

Like my home, our churches amass belongings over the years. Bits of silver, holy pictures, huge leather-bound Prayer Books and Bibles .... I'm fairly good at culling the dross from our vestrys (vestries?) .... I really ought to do the same with my own hoard.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Rural social and financial success

The booksale at St. James exceeded all expectations, going past last year's total and netting some £920. It was extremely busy in the morning whilst the afternoon can best be described as slow and steady. Even the Village Hall cadre who ran the refreshments for their own funds doubled what they made last year. So it was a very successful day, and coming hard on the heels of the wonderful Flower Festival at Ilketshall St Lawrence a fortnight before, which itself raised some £840 for the funds, we have had a very good month. Pictures of the flowers will shortly be available on the Benefice web site ( but at present I'm trying to redesign the whole series of pages and the news on there is old.

The vicarage roof is slowly being replaced. The tiles have started going back today, and they look lovely and straight. Quite a difference from the uneven and slipping condition before. It will take the garden a while to recover from all the dust, rubble and scaffolding that has turned parts of it yellow and parts of it grey, but it will bounce back. The autumn rains should see to that.

It's this village's Harvest Festival this coming Sunday, and with the Village Hall already booked by a Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme party, I have offered to host the Harvest lunch in the vicarage. Better make sure that there's lashings of ginger beer to go with the soup, ham salad and boiled potatoes, and apple pies.

"Golly" said Dick, "what a feast!"
(Let the Famous Five reader understand)

Friday, 22 September 2006

Second attempt

I updated this Blog yesterday. Well, I spent some 15 minutes typing it out just on midnight, and then when I tried to upload it all I got was a message that Blogger was doing some routine maintenance and I couldn't access the site. And I lost the entire post. And now, 24 hours later, I can't recall what it was that I was writing about anyway! The ephemeral nature of a Blogger's mind ....

Work on the roof progresses, despite the heavy rain today. I was down In Ipswich for a clergy Training event so I didn't have to witness the sodden roofers nailing down the waterproof membrane, or ripping off the extra sheets I fixed across the gaps around the chimneys yesterday afternoon when I saw the weather forecast!

Ipswich is not my favourite place on God's earth. There's something about it that I don't really like. Norwich is my shopping centre of choice, and I'm very fond of that city. It has a completely different atmosphere about it, perhaps because it's a University town and it has a vibrant air with all the young people milling around. But Ipswich had its young today, with just as many outlandish fashions, but it also had several people stumbling along, eyes glazed, heading for their next "fix". I wasn't too impressed either with the guy who got onto the Park & Ride bus and who proceeded to open a can of Carlsberg Special Brew and drink his way to the town centre at 10.30 in the morning! Still, at least he threw his empty can into a litter bin and not onto the pavement. No, give me Norwich any day.

It's the Second-hand Book Sale at St. James South Elmham tomorrow, and I shall be over there all day helping to sell. There are thousands of books on all subjects, and if last year is anything to go by, we should be kept fairly busy. Last year's Sale, the first attempt at this kind of fund-raiser, netted some £650, so we have that as a target. We'll see.

So, before I try and post this one tonight, I think I'll copy the text onto a Word document just in case ....

Friday, 15 September 2006

At the end of the day ...

... two new windows are in - expertly installed by a young man who clearly knows his job. The scaffolding is about two-thirds erected by four men who can't work without Radio 1 thundering out acros the lawn. In fact the first thing that comes out of their wagon when they (eventually) arrive is the ghetto-blaster! They managed four and a half hours today before leaving for the weekend. Nice work if you can get it! I expect them to return on Monday and finish the job whilst the roofers are here and doing what they can on the scaffolding that is up to the required height.

It's amazing how much light is prevented from entering the rooms with scaffolding and planks around the house. It's like living in a steel cage, though some of it is reminiscent of a cloister-walk, and has set me thinking ......

It's going up

The roofers have departed. The window replacement man has arrived and is half-way through fitting the second window. It's midday and the scaffolders have come back. After a smoke-break in their wagon, they are now finally doing something.

Watch this space.

Partial erection problems

So ... the scaffolders worked until 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday, and I was expecting them to come back yesterday and finish their erection. Well, they did turn up, but not until 4.00 p.m., and then they left at 4.30 p.m. with it still not completed. Which has caused a bit of a problem with the roofers who have arrived this morning and are unable to start since they scaffold only reaches half-way up the house. Phone calls to their boss have been made, and he is not happy. I've put the kettle on and made each of them a mug of coffee. They are now sitting in their van.

Two new windws are also due to be installed today. I wonder what time they will arrive?

Now if I administered the churches like this .....

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Grumpy old man

This afternoon the house is surrounded by three men heaving huge metal pipes along my back passage - the scaffolding is going up prior to the re-roofing of the vicarage. The black and blue wheelie-bins now have a prominent position by the front door since the walkway down the side of the house to their usual resting place is blocked off by angled support poles; the flat-leaf parsley looks somewhat sad underneath one of the support boards, and the large man in charge, who came with the van, walked around the house giving instructions, and who then disappeard without ringing the bell and speaking to me, was muttering about having asked for the holly tree to be cut down. No such request was ever made, and I don't mind it being lopped, but it ain't coming down, matey!

Allied to this I have been attempting to renew my House Contents Insurance with a company that specialises in dealing with the older generation (let the reader understand) that falls due in two day's time. When I telephoned them last week the lady asked if any works were being done on the bulding. When I told her about the planned re-roofing she said that in order to renew my Contents cover they had to have the start date and finish date of the work. I explained that since it was a Tied House, I did not have that information. She then told me they wouldn't renew without it. This caused a flurry of e-mails between myself, the Diocese, the Architects, builders and scaffolders.

Armed with the dates (today and one in four week's time) I have just telephoned the company again and asked to renew my Contents Insurance. There was no question asked about works on the house, and it was renewed immediately. I've noted down the name of the lady I spoke to, and the time of the call, so if anything happens .....

I almost bought a "Grumpy Old Man" T-shirt last week, until I saw the price. I can get a plain one and write on it for far less expense.

Oh look, the scaffolders have been working for 25 minutes and are now on their first break !

Seasonal greetings

There I was in Tesco's yesterday when I came upon their "Seasonal" aisle. Oh deep joy and felicity! I can now buy my Advent calendars and Stollen cake. And it's still September!

Is it me?

I was also slightly disturbed to pick up from my hall carpet this morning a small piece of blue tinsel from last year's Christmas decorations. Now where the heck has that been hiding for the last 9 months?

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Okay, pedants ...

Following on from the "Comment" about the Indian Summer, and that it should really be an All-Hallows Summer, it's a bit early for that as well, for that would be the end of this month, not the start.

And as for the "Comment" about the licensing of the parish church rather than the new Vicar ... I agree, it can be read that way. Let me make myself perfectly clear ... The new Vicar of Bungay was licensed last night in the small parish church of the town.


I'm not ....

The rubbish I have to put up with .....(mutter) ..... (mutter) ... (mumble)

Now off to a PCC, and a Chinese take-away afterwards! Parish life is such a bore .....

Can you still call it an "Indian summer"?

Or is that politically incorrect now?
Whatever, after a wet August, September has brought the hot sun back again. Even the wind the last couple of days has been warm, like the Mistral, and the heavy showers late yesterday evening did nothing to alleviate the warmth, just made it feel like the interior of a Turkish Bath ... or should I call that a Sauna now?

Thankfully today the air is a lot cooler and more clear, and the oppression has lifted. I much prefer this sort of autumn weather. I'd rather put on a jersey to keep warm than strip off and remain a sweating beached whale. (Not a pretty sight!)

The new Vicar of Bungay's parish church was licensed last night. It was a good service and the Suffragan Bishop spoke well. To illustrate the challenge of taking up a new post he used the story of the three envelopes that a new Governmental Minister finds when he enters his office on the first morning. These are to be opened when things go wrong. A few weeks into his job and he encounters the first problem, so he opens the first envelope. Inside is a note saying "Blame your predecessor", so he does. All goes smoothjly for a time, and then there's a bigger problem. Opening the second evenvelope he reads: "Reorganise your department", so he does, and it all settles down again. Later he encouinters a major crisis, and no longer able to blame his form,er incumbent, and with the department working as well as it can, he slits open the third envelope. The note inside reads, "Prepare three envelopes for your successor" .......

Even without the follow-on exegesis, the story is an apt picture of how parish life goes.

I'm not sure which envelope I'm on .......

Tuesday, 22 August 2006

Return of the prodigal

Well, as my esteemed colleague has suggested ( we began here, left for a while, tried other variations, and have returned. Our previous host to our thoughts has just introduced a policy of pop-up advertising on all their blogs. My Google toolbar stopped three pop-up's on my own page, so it's Goodbye Eponym and Hello Blogger. There's something warm and comforting about coming home. I might just open a bottle of red to celebrate.

Give credit where it's due

Well done Toyota.

A fortnight ago I received a letter from Toyota UK about a Recall Notice on the Rav4 model - the car I had part-exchanged some 4 weeks previous.

I noted that the Recall was to do with the safety of the front suspension coil springs, and the possibility that they may corrode, and “in the worst case, may fracture”.

In April 2002, whilst driving my Rav4 back home from Ipswich, the front-near side coil spring did precisely that. As I took a right-hand turn on the A144 just south of the village of Bramfield at about 40 mph, the coil fractured, and a length of approximately 3 inches speared through the tyre causing it to instantly deflate. It took careful driving control to bring the car to a halt at the side of the road without damage to the vehicle or injury to myself and my passenger.

This loss of length of spring meant that even with the car raised on the jack, I was unable to access the wheel nuts to change the wheel. An AA transporter had to convey me to a garage.
A new tyre was purchased and fitted on 18th April by ATS Euromaster at the Waveney Garage in Beccles, Suffolk, at a cost of £100.94. On 23rd April I had a new front near-side coil spring fitted by the Toyota Authorised Dealers, Gooch Motors Limited, in Lowestoft, at a cost of £137.63.

With the Recall Notice being concerned about precisely this eventuality, I wrote to Toyota explaining what had happened and attaching copies of the payment receipts. Today I received full payment back from them, despite my no longer being the owner of the car.

So - an accolade for the Customer Care department of Toyota UK.

Ought I to tell them that I bought a Chevrolet?