Sunday, 26 December 2010

On the Feast of Stephen ....

A cold and frosty morning, but 9 brave souls turned out for the Sunday service at 10.30 a.m. Inside the church of St. Michael South Elmham the large Calor gas heater was blasting merrily, keeping the icicles at bay as we sang unaccompanied carols both familiar and less-so.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Just for a change ...

... yesterday I went early-morning shopping to the local Co-op, and decided to throw caution to the four winds and have a freshly-cooked breakfast. The sausage may look burnt, but actually it was nice, albeit slightly crispy at the ends, but at least it was cooked through. Nothing worse than a sausage with a pink middle. The egg was fine, the bacon tasty, and lurking underneath that mound of beans is a hash brown. All it needed was a slice of toast or fried bread, but that would have cost extra, and I've already spend a lot preparing for Christmas.

I might well go back for another breakfast at some point. After all, a single serving is hardly an objective sample.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like ....

Christmas has finally arrived at the Parsonage with the purchase, erection and decoration of this year's tree. I like to leave it until the last minute, but this year I almost left it too late. The usual Nursery I go to had sold out, and the large Garden Centre near Norwich had just two left, and I paid double what I usually do, although it is a nice shape and the right size for my low ceilings.

It's a lot less cold tonight here in the north-eastern Suffolk borders, probably because we have a lot of cloud cover. Much of the snow around the roads has gone, though packed ice is still a problem in the shaded parts of the lanes.

But with snow on the ground, and the possibility of wintry showers forecast for tomorrow, it will be a White Christmas, and even if it doesn't snow on the actual day, it will still be seasonal to sit and look out at from my lounge in front of a burning fire.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful ... etc.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Return to the country

A smooth train ride back from London today and a return to the rural ministry straight into several messages from a funeral firm who are trying to arrange a service and burial. Away for just on 48 hours but some people expect me to be instantly available every day. Tough. I need my space no matter how pastoral the demands are. Even Jesus strolled off into the hills every now and again. The needs of the sick and dying didn't stop just because he wasn't around for a short while. Twenty minutes on the phone and most of the arrangements are sorted.

And just to make another point clear - I did not see any students in London yesterday, and I most certainly did not walk around the city with tins of white paint.

Now ... where's that turps?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

London - Day 2

A morning walk up to the Albert Memorial, over the frozen Serpentine, and across Hyde Park to Oxford Street. A rummage around several shops, including Selfridges (somewhat expensive), then down Regent Street for a quick view of Hamleys, and down Piccadilly. I had a look in the permanent market in the grounds of St James church, then continued westwards to Fortnum & Mason. Here the prices were laughable, and I came out without purchasing anything. It was educational to browse, and I discovered that the marzipan fruits that I often make at Christmas sell for about 18.00 (and I would enter the GBP sign if I wasn't using a Mac that only has $). I then strolled back into Knightsbridge and went into the Harrods Food Halls. Here I considered buying a small Stilton cheese at 6.85 that would fit in my empty Harrods Stilton jar at home, but thought better of it, reasoning that I can get a piece of Stilton from a supermarket and put it in the jar and no-one will know the difference.

So apart from a couple of small purchases along the way, I got back to base in Kensington with money still in my wallet. Who says that holidays cost a lot? Or am I just a miserable ageing git who won't spend? (And that's a rhetorical remark rather than a question that needs answering!)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Since I'm not going to Brugge ....

I've taken a couple of days in London again.

Walking down from St. Paul's I came across the church of St. Martin-within-Ludgate where there was a lunchtime recital just about to begin, so I went in and enjoyed an hour of classical music from the Dego/Leonardo Duo, Francesca Dego on violin and Francesca Leonardi on piano, playing Schumann's Sonato No.1 in A minor Opus 105, Mozart's Sonata in B flat major K.454, and Paganini's Caprices Opus 1, 5 and 10, concluding with his Opus No.8 "Le Streghe". It was a superb hour out of the cold north wind.

My route then took me through Trafalgar Square and down into Kensington where the Natural History Museum has its Winter Ice Rink and glistening trees. All very festive, and tomorrow I shall wander through the shops, probably looking rather than buying as I already have most of what I need for Christmas. But there might be something in Harrods ... so long as it's small and cheap!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Tis the Advent season ...

... and here's a beautiful version form the album "And Winter Came".

Another entry in the "Headlines we love" competition

Store detectives dress as baby Jesus to catch Christmas market thieves

Story from "The Telegraph" here

Lulay lula, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye luly lulay.
Oh storemen true, what may we do,
to stop the Christmas thieving?
Employ a child, not meek and mild,
who will do observing.

Deep and crisp and even ... and it's not a pizza!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

You have to love the Daily Mail ....

... for every once in a while the arrows of their wild reporting hits a target .... though what and where that target is is another matter ....

Hat-tip to Mad Priest for informing me of this media revelation. Perhaps I ought to rewrite this morning's sermon ....

Friday, 19 November 2010

I just knew today was going to be special ...

... when I got a Premium Bonds cheque for £25 though the post, and it just keeps on getting better! This has just arrived in my Inbox ....

From: Pronto Express Courier Services
To: package No-33678739
Date: 19:11:2010


Regarding the above package No-33678739 tagged to a brown box marked for delivery to you address with your contact details such as your email address as filled on the PRF (Package Registration Form). The said brown box was brought to our Dorchester, England U.K office on the 15TH of october, 2010 by one Mr. Richard Brooks who registered the said package for a diplomatic delivery which discription is a brown box containing £3.5mGBP (Three Million and Five Hundred Thousand Pounds) has filled in the PRF (Package Registration Form) by the said Mr. Richard Brooks. He ordered us to await his authorisation for shipment but, following courier rules and policies, shippers instruction for unshiped packages lapses after one month of no contact.

However, we have confirmed the content of the package yesterday with the presence of a law enforcement agent and its genuine that the package (brown box) contains sealed Great British Pounds. Since we had to tamper with this package, The real value of £3.5mGBP as filled on the PRF (Package Registration Form) have been re-insured.

Get back to us through the below email address as soon as possible to process the full delivery of your package. You can as well call the below number for more information regarding this notification.

Phone: +447565104981 (Suraj Vijay)

Suraj Vijay
For:: Pronto Express Courier Services

"discription" ? "unshiped" ??
Mr Vijay really should learn to spell if he wants to con me.

What a load of

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Monday, 15 November 2010

Late-autumn morning

Glorious morning - misty, fresh, grass wet and cobwebs glistening like jewels in the low sun.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

There's nowhere quite like home

Brighton - especially in a storm, with the rain lashing the sea's surface and the boiling waves and pebbles crashing through the seafront stalls.

And walking home, face sticky with salt spray, munching on a portion of chips in newspaper.

Simple pleasures.

Rough Remembrance

Not the sort of weather people want for today's open-air services at War memorials. Thankfully we have no outdoor village Memorials, and our Benefice Remembrance event will be on Sunday, inside the church of St Margaret South Elmham.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The first of the late autumn storms

It's cold - the wind is blowing - it's been raining all day - and the lights have been flickering ........

Winter draw(er)s on.

(Image credit)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Goodbye to the Lake District

The view opposite the Rectorial homestead is changing. This was the start of the work yesterday.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Just a reminder ....

... that the clocks go back an hour at 2.00 a.m. tonight (technically Sunday morning). Pity those working on night-shifts while most of us enjoy an extra hour in bed! Though they will get an extra hour's pay ....

... and nigher ....

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Back in the big city

I spent four days down in London last week, and took the opportunity to visit the Canaletto Exhibition that has just opened in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery. He has always been one of my favourite artists and this Show, placing his pictures alongside his contemporaries who were also painting street and canal scenes in Venice shows that he was not the only exponent of this detailed art-form. All the pictures on show were superb, but for me Canaletto remains the best - his intricate recording of daily life in that city allows you to look at his pictures and each time see something different, whether it be a person in the foreground, or an open window way in the distance through which you can just glimpse someone standing.

This trip also gave me the chance to walk the streets again, from Kensington to Trafalgar Square, detouring via Picadilly Circus, and there I found that since I last stood under the Statue of Christian Charity (commonly known as "Eros") the road layout has been changed. No longer is the central attraction on an island which you have to risk life and limb to reach, but now sits in a pedestrianised precinct that takes up half of the circus. The space between the statue's steps and the theatre opposite is so narrow at one point that I cannot see how the traffic used to flow around, and it made me wonder if the whole edifice had been shifted slightly to one side, but a search on Google didn't bring up any record of such an alteration. Maybe my memories are at fault.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Answered prayer

The vicar asked if anyone in the congregation would like to express praise for answered prayer. Suzie Smith stood and walked to the podium. She said, “I have an answered prayer I'd like to share with everyone. Two months ago, my husband, Tom, had a terrible bicycle wreck and his scrotum was completely crushed. The pain was excruciating and the doctors didn't know if they could help him.” A muffled gasp went round the men in the congregation as they imagined the pain that poor Tom must have experienced. “Tom was unable to hold me or the children,” she went on, “and every move caused him terrible pain. We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and it turned out they were able to piece together the crushed remnants of Tom's scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in place.” Again, the men in the congregation cringed and squirmed uncomfortably as they imagined the horrible surgery performed on Tom. “Now,” she announced in a quivering voice, “thank the Lord, Tom is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely.” All the men sighed with relief.

The vicar rose and tentatively asked if anyone else had something to say. A man stood up and walked slowly to the podium. He said, “I'm Tom Smith.” The entire congregation held its breath. “I just want to tell my wife that the word is sternum.”

Monday, 18 October 2010

Spotted these .....

... on a recent visit to the National Trust property Felbrigg Hall in north Norfolk.

I think we'll stick to beeswax in our churches ....

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Hot stuff

Tonight was an Indian curry night in our Village Hall. Home-cooked curries and also some all the way from a Bangladeshi restaurant in Birmingham. Wonderful food and good company of all ages, and I washed down my two plates-full with almost a bottle of very fine red wine given to me by a German student who stayed with me for 10 days in the summer. A good evening, but I'm glad that I'm not on duty tomorrow.

The body of Christ ,,, *pharrrp*
The blood of Christ ... *pharrrrp*

etc ....

Oscar Wilde's birthday

Google Doodles are not the only way of celebrating this day ....

Here's some shots from Matthew Bourne's "Dorian Gray" dance that I saw in Norwich a couple of years ago.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Yet another I can't put in the Benefice magazine

A man and a woman were sitting beside each other in the first class section of an aeroplane. The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, gently wiped her nose, then visibly shuddered for ten to fifteen seconds. The man went back to his reading.

A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took a tissue, wiped her nose, then shuddered violently once more. Assuming that the woman might have a cold, the man was still curious about the shuddering.

A few more minutes passed when the woman sneezed yet again. As before, she took a tissue, wiped her nose, her body shaking even more than before.

Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man turned to the woman and said, "I couldn't help but notice that you've sneezed three times, wiped your nose and then shuddered violently. Are you OK?"

"I am sorry if I disturbed you, I have a very rare medical condition; whenever I sneeze I have an orgasm."

The man, more than a bit embarrassed, was still curious. "I have never heard of that condition before" he said. "Are you taking anything for it?"

The woman nodded, "Pepper."

It's all been quiet here lately ....

... but that might change today with a visit of a friend from Theological College days.

(Somewhat older now than when this photo was taken in a deserted French church, as am I, though it's debatable whether increasing years brings increasing wisdom ....)

Suggestions as to what Jesus might be doing with his hand are welcomed .......

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Other clergy ....

... get e-mails from their parishioners asking erudite questions about theology, spirituality and liturgy.

I get this .....

Paddy is passing by Mick's hay shed one day when through a gap in the door he sees Mick doing a slow and sensual striptease in front of an old red Massey Ferguson.

Buttocks clenched he performs a slow pirouette and gently slides off first the right welly, followed by the left. He then hunches his shoulders forward and in a classic striptease move lets his braces fall down from his shoulders to dangle by his hips over his corduroy trousers.

Grabbing both sides of his check shirt he rips it apart to reveal his tea stained vest underneath and with a final flourish he hurls his flat cap on to a pile of hay.

"What the feck are you doing Mick" says Paddy.

"Jeez Paddy, ye frightened the livin bejasus out of me," says an obviously embarrassed Mick, "but me and the Missus been having some trouble lately in the bedroom department, and the Therapist suggested I do something sexy to a tractor".

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The apple harvest begins

A better crop on the Parsonage trees this year. More bottles of juice to enjoy through the winter!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Boiling skies

A short but heavy storm swept over as I was driving to the evening office. Couldn't resist taking some pics.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Off, on, off, on, off again ....

I don't know if I'm coming or going ....

A day of power cuts in our village .... intermittent ones of just a couple of seconds at 11.30, 12.01, 12.08, 12.09, 12.31, 12.41, 12.48, 12.53 and 12.55. I gave up trying to work at the computer after the fourth time ,,,,

Then it went off again at 13.09 and didn't come back until 17.24. I took the opportunity to sort out a couple of cupboards.

I had just cooked supper and was about to boil the kettle when at 19.40 .... blackout! Luckily, being a vicarage, I have a plentiful supply of candles, and the downstairs rooms were soon lit. I found my small camping-gas burner and was just heating some water for a coffee when it came back on again at 20.10.

So far so good .....

Saturday, 4 September 2010

London again

An overnight trip to London this last week, and the weather was perfect. Sunshine and warm, so I walked through from Kensington to Bishopgate via Victoria where I went to the Annual Picture Postcard Fair in the Royal Horticultural Halls. A distance of just over 6 miles all told, with a slight detour into Covent Garden on the way.

A couple of stops to let my shirt dry out from under the backpack and to take inner refreshment, as well as to give my feet a rest, and I enjoyed every minute, seeing some places I'd never visited such as the Guildhall.

The Albert Memorial in Hyde Park was looking stunning in the sunlight.

The Natural History Museum in Kensington was imposing. In 1980 I worked there for some 7 months doing market research on their new Hall of Human Biology exhibit.

St Paul's when viewed from the new square on the north side looks as it used to do before all the modern developments that now surround it.

And as it was a Friday evening, when I arrived early for my train at Liverpool Street station the local bars were overflowing into the piazza with the workers all enjoying the sunshine and starting their weekend relaxation.

I love walking through this vibrant city.