Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Monday, 29 September 2008

There are times ....

... when only a traditional meal will satisfy the lunchtime need.

Smoked haddock fishcakes, chips and peas, with a dollop of tomato sauce.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Autumn days

The Autumn season is now apparent in the turning of the leaves from green to wonderful shades of orange and brown. It's a time of year that I really enjoy with the misty mornings followed by sunny days a cool nights. Time to put away the T-shirts and get the lighter jerseys and sweaters out of the cupboard. Time also to make preparations for the winter to come.

Like my colleague on Long Island, I have started to get things ready. The wooden table on the patio has been scrubbed down and the chairs will shortly be stacked and covered. I have ordered, and had delivered, enough coal to fill the bunker (and that should last me for several years since I only light an open fire on occasion and I last ordered the same amount in 2003!), and next week I need to put in an order for heating oil with the local village "consortium". The chimneys will be swept next month, and I am slowly putting various tins of food away in the pantry. With predictions of a hard winter, and the possibility of power cuts, I shall sort out the lanterns and make sure I have several bottles of lamp oil. At least I won't run short of candles since I keep supplies for all the churches. And if the electric hob and oven aren't available, I shall light the brick barbecue that was built on the patio last year.

In many ways, these preparations keep us in touch with nature. When I lived in a town I rarely gave a thought to the coming winter, and I certainly didn't buy in extra food for storage. In this rural setting, although the town is only three miles away, it somehow seems both prudent and right. It's an Autumn task. So as I enjoy the wonderful colours of the tress, the gleam of conkers on the ground spilling out of their spiny cases as they are dislodged by the wind from the horse-chestnut trees, the distinctive smell of the country as the mist rises, and the way that distant sounds travel across the bare fields, I shall ensure that my nest is secure against the storms to come, and that I have provision to sustain both body and soul. Part of that will be given by the huge crop of apples this year. I do nothing to the trees, and still they flourish. Large unmarked fruit this time, despite, or maybe because of, the wet summer we've had. Whatever the reason, I, and the horses opposite, will enjoy them.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Autumn sunshine

It's been a lovely sunny day here today, though as the evening comes on the temperature is rapidly falling. But when the midday sun streamed through my kitchen windows I took the opportunity to record it. The flowers are those given me by the Car Dealers on Tuesday with my new car.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A different day off

Yesterday saw me in Norwich for the afternoon and evening, firstly to pick up my new car! I've never owned a NEW car before, but thanks to my inheritance from my Mother's estate I decided that as it was time to change vehicle anyway, I'd spend a little more than the sum for which I normally budget. So last week I went to the dealer's to see what was on offer and what thay would allow me on my Lacetti 1.6.

I came away with a very good trade-in deal on a new Chevrolet Lacetti 1.8 Sport, and yesterday I collected it from the showroom. With a leather interior and full sports trim, it really is a comfortable car to drive. Now I just have to get the seats right ....

So having spent an hour or so, with a friend's assistance, placing all the bits from the old car into the various pockets and drawers, I parked it in Norwich centre as I was going to the Theatre in the evening.

I had a pre-show meal in my favourite eating place - Cafe Rouge - with a tomato and harissa soup, followed by chicken, bacon and crumbled roquefort salad. It was wonderful!

Then it was to the Theatre Royal to see the Matthew Bourne dance troop in his new show, "Dorian Gray". Loosely based on Oscar Wilde's "Picture of Dorian Gray" this was a contemporary dance piece that was premiered at the recent Edinburgh Festival. The show was halted after the first 5 minutes when the revolving stage jammed, and there was a 10 minute break whilst the technical problems were sorted, but then the show resumed, and from the beginning, which was a bonus.

Quite risque, and not the sort of piece to which to take take granny, it was nevertheless a brilliant piece of theatre. My first exposure to contemporary dance, and whilst you don't come out of the show humming any of the tunes, you do leave with admiration for how the dancers make their movements so fluid and look effortless.

So, all in all, it was a very different day off to that which is usual. I only disgraced myself once - by having a major nosebleed at the car dealer's, just as I was paying for the vehicle. I think it was the shock of parting with money!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Friday, 12 September 2008

More food!

Two lunch-time meals this time.

Yesterday - a salmon fillet in garlic crumb, new pots and carrots with sea-salt butter ....

Today - a healthy tomato and mozzarella salad, drizzled with green olive oil and sprinkled with ground pepper, a touch of sea salt, and herbs de provence.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Is it that time already?

There I was, wandering along the aisles of a well-known supermarket looking for a carton of apple juice, when I was brought to a stop by this shelf display.

And there's still four months to go! Who the hell buys this stuff this early?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Once upon a time

... as all good fairy stories start, there was a Vicar who only had one church to look after. Every Sunday he would get up, walk across his garden, and push open the old wooden door to find a his (her) churchwardens bustling about getting the building ready for the service. The Sacristan would be laying out the altar, the organist running softly through the hymns, and the choir busy robing in the vestry. The Vicar would walk into the sacristy to find the vestments laid out ready on top of the press. Slipping them on, he (she) would pick up their hymn book and when everyone else was ready, the choir would lead the procession out through the door and the first hymn would be announced.

And so on .... much of which is true when there is only the one church in the Benefice. But when there are 11 ....

Now don't think I'm bemoaning my lot. I love the variety of the ancient buildings in this rural benefice, and I'm grateful for the preparation that the faithful few do prior to a service, but on a Sunday such as today, when not only was there a baptism at the early service (9.45 a.m.) and no organist at either that or the 11.15 a.m. following, few realise just how much stuff I have to cart around. For the baptism there are the service booklets, the paschal candle (there's just one for the benefice - not one per church), oils, baptism card and candle; and then for both services not only the vestments, but also the Sunday reading sheets, Gospel book, my service book, hymn book, and in the absence of the organists, the hi-fi system with speakers and extension cable. It's no wonder my back plays up every now and again.

One thing that is rarely mentioned in the job descriptions for rural posts is that the cleric has to be fit! There isn't the luxury of having everything on hand in one building. It all has to be carted about between services. It's as bad for our organists, for I see them come into the churches with bags full of heavy music books.

Once upon a time .... ...

I don't know that I'd exchange my present role for that of a single church, but there are times when it does seem fleetingly attractive!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Because of the nature of this 11-parish Benefice, I have to prepare the Sunday choice of hymns well in advance. This afternoon I sat down to work through to Advent Sunday, and by the time I needed to leave for a meeting at 7.10 p.m. I had got to the last Sunday of October.

It's not just choosing the hymns to fit the Lectionary (for which I have a list of suggestions) but also the tunes, and then noting down the numbers of the tunes in the various books used by our different organists. I have to work with Hymns Ancient & Modern Revised, Mission Praise, 100 Hymns for Today, and tunes from those plus Ancient & Modern Standard and Ancient & Modern New Standard.

I like my study desk to be reasonably clear. It tells me that I'm on top of things, that everything is ready.

This was my desk this afternoon .....

... and it's no better this evening!

Tomorrow it will be done, and then I can start looking at Sunday's sermon.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Safe return

Safely back at Parsonage House after a damp drive up through Sussex and through Essex. My route took me via Uckfield to drop off a friend to collect his car from the workshop. I made my way through the town and decided not to travel up the High Street as it was quite congested with traffic, but instead took one of the other link roads to the by-pass. At least it wasn't as wet there today as it was on the 12th October 2000 when the river Uck burst its banks and the town experienced its worst flooding for 40 years.