Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Thoughts for the New Year

The 1952 flm version of "The Importance of Being Earnest" was on the box a couple of days ago, and it has to be one of my favourites. I never watch it but that I come away remembering a couple of quotes. This time three sentences caught me.

Fistly, in the confrontation between Gwendoline and Cecily, Gwendoline says "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."

Next, Dr. Chasuble, when woken out of his afternoon sleep begs forgiveness for his "post-prandial nap into the arms of Morpheus."

And finally, Lady Bracknell observes that "Three addresses always inspire confidence, even in tradesmen."

There can be little better preparation for 2009 than these pearls of wisdom.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Fresh and frosty ...

... are these closing days of December. Yet nothing so far has dropped off the Christmas tree in my hallway, so it can't be that cold.

The service rota has returned to normal, apart from the short Watchnight service at 8.00 p.m. on New Year's Eve. By holding it at that time it allows people to go on to their parties or whatever. I did try a midnight, but if it hadn't gathered the guests from the carousing at the Old Vicarage next door to the church, it would have been sparsely attended. As it is, I expect that we will all manage to fit into the choir stalls.

"Fast away the old year passes."

The fireworks marking the start of 2009 will be viewed with somewhat jaundiced eyes after the economic and commercial events of the past few months, and the warnings of a massive increase in unemployment to come. Who would have predicted at the start of 2008 that the year's end would see the demise of Woolworths, MFI, Zavvi (Virgin Megastores), Adams, Whittards, and countless other small businesses. If I was to gaze into a crystal ball, I would say that it looks decidedly dodgy for Currys, if the numbers in their shops are anything to go by.

"May you live in interesting times" is an old Chinese curse. Well, the "living on credit" bubble had to burst at some point. That particular bauble has dropped off the High Street tree and shattered. It just remains to see how long it will take to sweep up the pieces.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

A Christmas ritual

Each of us to their own, but one of mine is that I like to sit down and watch Alastair Sim as "Scrooge" in the 1951 version of Dickens' "Christmas Carol". The closing scene where he is so brimming with laughter as he raises Bob Cratchitt's salary is wonderful.

Now I feel ready for the Midnight service.

More candles and carols

This time at St Michael South Elmham.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The rural Carol service

Five down and one more to go, plus Midnight and Christmas morning, and then I can pour the sherry!

Friday, 19 December 2008

I'm glad THAT day's over!

Ever had a "clumsy" day? Yesterday was that for me. Everything I touched either fell over, broke, or scattered itself across the floor - like the card file that flipped off the bookshelf and threw its contents under the sofa, or the various items that kept leaping out of my fingers!

Then I impaled my head on the gutter bracket whilst outside and at the top of a ladder at the front of the house putting up lights in the large holly tree - and that stabbed my hands in various places so that I look as if I've got a touch of the pox!

Next, the string of outside lights sent me from a friend in the USA, together with a note saying that they were a British set and last used by him in his curacy, glowed very brightly when I put them on. I turned the control box knob. They went out. I turned the knob once more. There was a loud "pop" and smoke poured out of the box. Leaning forward to pull the plug from the socket I knelt on one of the light bulbs. Fragments of glass in the carpet and my trousers! They went in the bin.

Then the 8 star rope-light decoration for the front of the house, which had worked perfectly last Christmas, and was fine when I packed it away, was now only half-working, so that also went in the bin.

And despite searching though the contents of the hall cupboard, I wasn't able to find the feet for a small artificial tree, even though for 7 years they've been kept in the same place.

Sod it.

I shall enjoy Christmas when it's over.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Back on home soil

View from convent window along Carmersstraat at 0730 hrs with the Bell tower in the distance.

Two of the sisters see us off.

A long day of travelling yesterday, but now safely back in Suffolk. We left the Convent at 9.30 a.m. and drove to Dunkirk where we lunched and then searched for the Auchan hypermarket, which we eventually found. Then it was the 1600 hrs sailing to Dover, arriving at 1700 hrs local time.

Dunkirk restaurant.


A drive then to Battle in East Sussex to drop off one of the travellers, a cup of coffee, and then the haul up to the Dartford tunnel and eastwards for Suffolk. I got home at approx. 10.30 p.m. and managed to unpack most things before tumbling into bed.

It was a good and relaxing break, and some shopping was done, though not as much as in previous years since the exchange rate of the £ to the Euro is almost one-to-one now, which has virtually doubled the cost of everything. However, the chocolate shop did well, and several boxes of Belgian chocs and truffles now reside upstairs waiting for Christmas.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

More Belgian light

Late December afternoon in the main square, and then walking back to the Convent after a pancake and coffee!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Brugge in December

'Tis cold and wet, but good to be here nonetheless for a 5-day pre-Christmas break, staying at the English Convent.

Just off the main square there's a nice little pub ...

and the Christmas ligths are pretty, even in the rain!