Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Autumn Watch

The wonderful autumn watch programme is being filmed just twenty minutes away from our home.  It is great to see landmarks so familiar to us and learn more about the habitats right on our doorstep.  We were actually at Leighton Moss on Friday of last week and glimpsed  one of the presenters, Martin Hughes-Games, making his way into the visitor centre just as we were leaving.  We watched the first programme this evening and it was just as we hoped it would be, uplifting, funny and full of autumn colour. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Living with a Monastic Heart

Yesterday I visited Rydal Hall with my friend from prayer group to hear Esther de Waal speak on the title above.  She shared about her own journey in faith and finding St Benedict as a busy wife and mother and how "The Rule" had not only helped her in the nuts and bolts of daily living but had also been an anchoring point in the storms.  My thoughts here cannot do justice to her as an eloquent, amusing and incredibly knowledgeable speaker, now well into her eighties!  One of her comments resonated so deeply and was the encouragement I needed at the end of a very harrowing week and it was such a blessing to be able to share this with her.

The day began at 10:00 with the usual coffee and chat, Esther's first talk ran from 10:40 until 11:50 with a five minute break in between, after which there was a half hour meditation for those who wished to take part.  It was quite something to be in a room of well over fifty people, sitting in silence and "Holding oneself still before the gaze of God" ( Esther de Waal)  My friend and I attempted to eat our lunch outside in the gardens but when the Lake District rain became a little more persistent, we wandered back inside.

Esther's talk in the afternoon highlighted the many similarities between Benedictine and Celtic spirituality as in essence they are both a "weaving of prayer in daily living", one by the call to pray at regular intervals throughout the day and night, interspersed with work, rest and eating; the other making a tapestry of grace filled moments as each task is completed around the hearth and home.

Whilst the second meditation session began, I took my camera for a prayer walk and the joy it brought me in focusing in the tiniest detail and capturing the beauty on a wet autumn day, was pure balm for my soul and a very gift from heaven above:

My walk began here.

Past the angel on guard...
... the colourful foliage and ...
... the rain soaked leaves.
Listening to the water crashing against the rocks.
Walking through an inviting tunnel...
... and finding this place, I wonder what is behind the door ...
... a thunderous noise and an amazing sight, I must take a closer look...
Just wonderful!
Back on the trail.

Standing Still.

Saying good bye.
By now it was time to meet my friend and make our way back to the car but not before admiring a special unexpected treat I had discovered on my wanderings:
Yarn Bombing!
And then as we wandered past the tee rooms and headed down the hill, what should we spy but a woodland walk full of weavings and wood carvings!




This one had truly become part of the landscape as you can see the lichen growing through the weaving!
A coat for a tree complete with...

... stone buttons!

A lasting image and a peaceful heart.



Silver Wedding

On Friday 11th October Dave and I celebrated a very special milestone.  Not so long ago we had all sorts of plans for this day but as circumstances changed it was a case of "accept and adapt" and with this in mind we spent the day at home.  We received some lovely cards and gifts and Dave's mum and dad came and shared some lunch with us:

Beautiful Flowers.



My card to Dave hand crafted by this lady
A family favourite ~  braised casserole and assorted vegetables.
So grateful for these past years~
 For working together as a team,
 Being graced with five lovely children and a precious grand-daughter
 For shared interests and a whacky sense of humour
 For the love of family and friends
 For a faith that has held us together when everything else has been falling apart.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Sheffield :: Blackberry Cottage :: Weston Park Museum

On Friday 4th October we made a last minute trip to Sheffield to spend a few days with Sara.  We stayed at this place which although in the countryside was literally only fifteen minutes from the city centre and Sara's digs:

The view from our back door.
A kitchen you can eat in, yay!
View from the back of the house, it was actually warm enough on at least two days to sit outside and eat.
My knitting corner!
There was an interesting selection of books on the shelves, Dave read about "Bomber Command" and I loved the doors, even though the latch had been put on the wrong way round and the bathroom only locked from the outside!
The other side of the lounge ~ Pip found a Thomas railway in the cupboard upstairs and had great fun with it.
Two sinks!!!
Wet room area, I must admit I prefer a shower cubicle easier to clean and maintain.  I think there was a slight problem with the drainage and the water collected in pools and took a little while to drain away.
The main bedroom, which was big enough for Pip too, hence her trundle mattress leaning against the wardrobe.  Pip loved the rocking horse which you can just see in the foreground.
Benedict's room, which was at the front of the house and level with the road, even though it was upstairs in the house!
On the Saturday whilst Sara was on a training day we pottered around at home and I managed to catch up on her laundry!  She isn't lazy but it costs £2.50 per wash in halls but naturally the washer and dryer at the cottage were free!  Once she had finished for the day, we collected her from halls and she slept on the put you up in Benedict's room and in all stopped with us for three nights.
On the Sunday, Sara, Pip, Benedict and myself made a trip into the centre as she had to buy some equipment for a site survey to be conducted on the following day.  We had a welcome sit down and rest in Costa before then catching the super tram home.  The kids loved their tram ride and some kindly male students gave up their seats so that the four of us could sit down.  It was appreciated.
On Monday whilst Sara was in afternoon lectures the four of us visited Weston Park Museum.  There was loads to see and do and most importantly entry was FREE!  I did however put a donation in the box as we were so impressed with all they had to offer.  We arrived at half past two and stayed until closing time at five and still didn't manage to see everything.  Benedict and Pip were totally engaged the whole time:

Rock Art.
Instead of making their own rock art the kids decide to make houses instead!
Textured art depicting rock stratification and archaeological finds.
Pip dressing up as a Saxon...
... and  she insisted I dress up as a Scullery Maid, I know my place!
Snowy the bear in "The arctic zone."  Pip wasn't so sure of him as she turned a corner and he was there!  He certainly made her jump but she warmed to him at the end of the visit.
They both had fun building an igloo using irregular shaped pieces of moulded plastic.
Just as we entered this space the voice over the loud speaker announced that the museum would close in ten minutes, so we just had time to strike a pose in front of this guy:
A good reason to visit again don't you think?!
We bade farewell to Sara on the Tuesday morning and had a rather eventful journey home!  Despite having eaten breakfast and a mid morning snack, Pip had a major meltdown in the car and upon checking her bloods with b's monitor she was having a really bad hypo!!!  It certainly explains her exhaustion and constant hunger and thirst these past few weeks. 
 To have a diagnosis of diabetes she needs to be running high, so I'm hoping that her symptoms are due to a massive growth spurt and not the start of something more sinister.  I am grateful for the monitor, because without it I might have thought she was being very badly behaved and might have challenged her as a result.  It has also enabled me to flag up the problem with school, so that if she does exhibit any whacky behaviour to not assume the worst and instead give her a drink of orange juice and a snack.
In short life has certainly been more challenging than usual and it has taken its toll on my mental health yet again, hence my absence from this place!  I know that looking at life through a lens can sometimes give an impression of everything being rosy and so I do try to be true to what is going on around me.  However there are times with the situation is so bad that having to write it all down, just drags me further into the mire and for that reason it is easier to be MIA.