Sunday, 4 December 2016

Stable times

I love Nativity sets and I love chocolate-free Advent Calendars.  When I see the two combined I'm a lost cause.

Early in the year I saw some lovely sets and I bought them for lots of children and one very big child.  Me.  Each day I can open a new window and find another piece towards my stable.  Day 1 was the stable itself but since then I've found two trees and a sheep.  

Thursday, 1 December 2016


Bible SocietyI love Advent!  I love this period of waiting for Christmas.  I'm old enough to take the commercialism with a shovelful of salt and enjoy quite a lot of the razzamatazz without being bothered by it.  Advent is a time of reflection and thinking, thinking about the birth of Christ but also of the people whom he came to save.  I have known and loved many people throughout my life and I have in my turn been loved and I thank God.

I was delighted to find that The Bible Society has devised an Advent Challenge for us all to join in.  Today's challenge is centered on the story which we know as the Good Samaritan.  There are three actions to choose from. 

Talk to, or give some food to, someone sleeping rough
Help a stranger pack their shopping or load it into their car
Offer to shop for someone who can’t get out.

I don't think there is anyone sleeping rough in Caistor, I'm the person for whom others offer to shop and I doubt if anyone would be too happy at the thought of a lady on a mobility scooter packing their car so at first glance I feel a bit limited on this one.  However, I shall sort out some tine for the food bank and I shall make sure I include a couple of cans of salmon,  Many years ago I delivered a food parcel to an elderly lady and included a small Christmas cake and an even smaller home-made Christmas pudding but it was the tin of salmon which excited her most.  That would be a treat for some time in the future when the offers of special Christmas meals had come to an end and January and February could seem a little joyless.  Thank you, Edna, for teaching me that.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Cheering Pudsey

Move over, Paddington.  Pudsey is top of the pops this week.  He's on a 470 mile rickshaw trip from Jedburgh to London.  

UK readers know exactly what I'm talking about.  Pudsey is the figurehead of Children in Need, the BBC's annual campaign to raise money for (surprise, surprise) children in need.  Some is spent in the UK, some overseas but since 1980 it has raised £600 million through its annual campaign.  For several years now Pudsey has been transported around the country courtesy of young cyclists who have themselves been helped by the charity and who cycle power the rickshaw as others collect from the crowd.  The "Grand Finale" will be on Friday with a telethon when the money rolls in.

Anyway, today Pudsey came to Caistor and it would have been rude not to welcome him.  The town turned out in force.  

Big Pudsey came first and I have to say, he's a bit of a poser.  He had competition from a panda who is the mascot of our local running club.  Panda rarely meets a bear of his own size in Caistor so it was a treat for him.  

Soon the shout went up - the rickshaw was on its way!  A young lad called Ross was powering the bike while little Pudsey reclined in the back.    There's an incredibly large support crew but Ross was the star in Caistor.  He got loudly cheered (we'd been primed as to his name)  but all too soon the circus moved on, the crowd dispersed and this resident came home glad she'd sat in the cold and cheered.  

Friday, 4 November 2016


It's not often I get a letter with this on the back nowadays.

Even then it's not often I would share the contents of such an envelope on this blog.

But it was a letter from Jack and he wants to communicate with all of you.  So "SWALK" may be for me, but it's just to sweet-talk me so he can get onto my blog.

Hi Everyone!
Yesterday I went to one of my favourite places!  Yes, it was to see the vicar.  I was later than usual because I had been for an eye test.  I was amazed to be told that my eyes hadn't changed in my last three visits - what good news!  Anyway, as usual a Haddon Hall pot of tea was on the tray and as we drank plans were made for the day.

It was decided that I would go to see Auntie Hettie first as the vicar had guests coming around 10.30 so off I went.  I would be back for dinner.  Auntie Hettie hadn't been too well  for a day or two but she perked up when I went into her room to say hello.  I always take Hettie a book to look at.  The one today was about old country cottages which I know she will enjoy.  Carrie, her daughter (who looks after her mum) told me what needed doing.  To look after someone full time takes a lot of doing so a big well done to Carrie and all other carers doing the same thing. I take my hat off to you.

I've been doing the garden for them for a few months now.  I've already made a patio where Hettie can sit when she is well enough.  I fixed the garage door so Carrie can open it unaided.  We put her guinea pig cages in it for the winter and then, after pruning the roses, it was a cuppa in the kitchen for me.

The garden is very large so I will be going for a while yet.  It's near a small road and lots of people walk by and I have a lot of banter with them when they are  passing.  Dinner time was approaching so I went back to the vicar's.

Just before dinner I started to take out a shrub in "my" part of the garden.  It had outstayed its welcome!  What a hard job it was!  It had got around an old tree stump with its roots entangled in it.  I lost a lot of sweat doing this before I was shouted in for dinner.  We had gammon, baked potato, broad beans, carrots, sweet corn, broccoli and (best of all) onion sauce which she had made.  Just one thing spoilt it - my first bite into the broccoli just about broke my teeth.  I didn't like to tell her it was frozen so I said it was a little cold.  Dinner wouldn't be the same if everything was perfect.

After emptying the fountain, digging out the rest of the shrub, planting some hyacinths, moving some boxes into the kitchen, moving the hanging basket stand and the bird table, and moving some of the many pots and tubs with flowers in so the vicar could admire them from the house during the winter it was 3.30pm, time I was going home to my wife who is suffering with her back at the moment.

I must tell you all before the vicar does - I am going to Malta for a month to get some sunshine.  I'll still be thinking of you all.

Rambler Hope your mojo is back.  we've now got a shi tzu - she's a bundle of joy.

Mamas Mercantile   Thank you for your kind words.  I'm often around Mablethorpe and Skeggy so watch out for me.

Sam  Good luck with your hockey team.

For everyone  Remember "A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the loveiest things you can be."  


Sunday, 23 October 2016

No more locusts

The reading in church this morning was one of my favourite passages from the Old Testament.  It's from the Book of Joel and it includes the promise, "I will restore to you the years which the locust has eaten"

Seven years ago I took early retirement because of ill health.  I had loved my job but two years of caring for my mum (she had to cope with the amputation of a leg and then the gradual loss of her health leading eventually to dementia and death) had taken their toll on me and I was more than stressed out and no longer coping.  Early retirement was both a relief and a devastation.  I felt, as they say, that I was on the scrap heap with little more to give.

The first couple of years of retirement weren't easy either.  My sister (whom I'd cared for through cancer ten years earlier) became terminally ill so once again I became a carer.  Early retirement was a time of very limited income as only about half my pensions were payable at that time.  

Gradually things improved.  My income is now comfortable.  My home is a peaceful place where I can relax.  I'm no longer "the vicar" but I have a regular congregation whom I love and which appreciates me.

And today I am sixty five, the age at which I would have expected to retire anyway.  I cannot remember ever being happier than I am now.  The locusts munch no more.

God is indeed good

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Have a go at making cards!

I love making cards!  Christmas is a wonderful time for me and I've already got my cards made for this year but I was asked to lead a small group at our local Trefoil Guild so that they too could have a go.  I decided that I would make some cards using minimum of specialised kit and a maximum of stuff that people might have already.  
Surround the aperture with double sided tape
I explained about dividing A4 card (I suggest using 200gsm to 300gsm for those who like to know these things) but suggested that for aperture cards it's easier to buy blanks.  Anyway, here are my notes for my first couple of cards.  
Open the card out and on the inside frame the shape with double sided sticky tape.    Lay your first ribbon or piece of lace across the card making sure it sticks to the tape at both ends.  Carry on laying pieces of ribbon working out from the middle.  It's OK to overlap but NO GAPS!  When you have covered all the aperture turn the card over to admire your work.

Now put a row of double sided tape all around the middle section of the card but before you peel off the tape backing check which way the card will need to be folded.  When you are sure, peel off the tape back and stick the card together.  (I realise I have laboured this point but I have come to grief before today!)  As you can see the lace which I put in first is top of the heap.

If you are an accomplished card maker chances are you have stamps or dies or some other clever way of adding a greeting.  Maybe you have wonderful handwriting.  For lesser mortals like myself peel offs are a wonderful invention and usually cost well under £1 per sheet.  They can be stuck over blemishes and as far as I am concerned that makes them brilliant value.  The easiest way to apply a peel off greeting is to lift it from the sheet using a piece of masking tape from which most of the tackiness has been removed by sticking it to your arm or tee shirt.  Press it firmly to the greeting and lift carefully.  Still on the tape put it carefully on to the card and then peel away the tape.  I've added a few stars (without using tape) to cover the marks on my card.  

This is a variation on the same technique.  This blank is from my stash and is very shiny.  Here I have backed the leaves with green ribbon and have used some greetings ribbon across the bauble but the red design across the bauble is made up of folded paper.  I've used tiny peel offs for the holly berries.  I didn't have any dots so I used gold stars with red middles.  I could have used tiny buttons or red sequins but I wanted to use stuff from the stash.  Coming up to Christmas there will be lots of red and green around (magazine features? wrapping paper?) so it's not necessary to buy anything specially.

Very special note for Mandy in case she reads this.  Sorry about the peel offs.  I know you hate them.

Monday, 10 October 2016

You'll never believe what my tortoise does!

I've just realised that I haven't written about my recent attempts at paper engineering so here goes.

This is an Archimedes Screw.  Unlike "real" Archimedes Screws it won't lift water as it is made of card and acetate but it will lift salt.  Very slowly and with a lot of salt not getting to the top but it will lift salt.
This Merry Go Round will indeed go around merrily.  It is wind powered the wind being supplied by blowing hard on the vanes at the top.  
But the tortoise.  Ah the tortoise.  When the handle is turned the tortoise types very slowly with one hand and scratches his head with the other.  Reminds me of someone who lives in my house.