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Friday 27 April 2018


If I am being honest my life often feels like one long playtime.  I have so much fun!

But some days I play more than others and any visit to Mandy aka Dunholme Crafter is definitely playtime.  So today was playtime.

I made three cards.  Here you go

I like all three but I think I like the first one best.  Thanks, Mandy!

Sunday 22 April 2018


Another Sunday, another church!

This week I went to the little village of Walesby (population 249) which has two Anglican churches.  Not bad! One is quite famous locally as the Ramblers' Church but it is up a rough track on a hill some distance from the village and isn't used for regular worship.  Today I went to the "new" church of St Mary, built in 1913.  

Walesby altar kneeler showing the church
Many churches these days have hand-worked kneelers.  This picture of the church is part of the altar rail kneeler.  Other sections show wild flowers from the Lincolnshire Wolds.  

Great for the minister to play Hide and Seek with the congregation
It's quite an unusual church and rather awkward for conducting worship, because there are two pillars slap bang in the middle of the aisle so part of the congregation can't see the Minister and, what's worse, the minister can't keep an eye on them!
My great uncle
I have a very soft spot for this church as many years ago my great uncle (by marriage) was Rector here.  I don't come from a very religious family and my father used to tell people that I was the white sheep of the family.  I don't remember Uncle Palmer much (and certainly don't remember his time in Walesby) but I do know that he conducted my parents' wedding.

Think very carefully before getting married in this church!
I must just mention the church gates.  The Walesby tradition is that any bridegroom married in this church must lift his bride over the gates before he is allowed to take her home.  The gates were recently replaced but as you can see, the gates are low with some parts even lower to the gate to make the lifting easier.  The old gates can be seen on the kneeler above.

Thursday 19 April 2018

Inspiring Women

Question.  Who has been portrayed on film by Dame Helen Mirren, and on stage by Linda Bellingham and Anita Dobson?  Answer Tricia Stewart.
Tricia in her glory!
And just in case you don't know, Tricia Stewart is the leading light of the original Calendar Girls, pictured on The Alternative Women's Institute Calendar.  She was the speaker at the Centenary Celebrations of Caistor Women's Institute, Nettleton and Moortown WI and Holton le Moor WI, all of which were founded in 1918.

The waiters (and one waitress)

It was a really good night out.  Tricia is a really funny and down-to earth speaker and had us all laughing at her descriptions of how the calendar was produced and its totally unforeseen popularity.  I think one of my favourite bits was about the "girls" going to London on the train and the chef serving them breakfast wearing only socks and a pinny.  The gentlemen (husbands of various members) who served us supper wore rather more.  

I find it amazing how quickly the Women's Institute spread through our country.  It came from Canada and the first British branch started on Anglesey in September 2015.   Just over two years later it had spread all over England with branches being formed even in tiny Lincolnshire villages.  That is all the more amazing when one remembers that the Great War was raging at the time - but maybe women needed each other's support even more in wartime.

We had a great evening and we finished by doing something which I've never done at a WI meeting before.  We sang Jerusalem.  

Sunday 15 April 2018

North Willingham

Old vicars never retire, they merely pray away.
St Thomas's Church, North Willingham

This morning I went to North Willingham, a village (population 180) about eleven miles from Caistor, to take a service.  It's a fourteenth century building with lots of later additions and alterations and really it feels like a Georgian church.  One thing which has never been added is a heating system but everyone is offered a hot water bottle as they come in!  It's wonderful!

Looking east
The congregation is usually 12-15 people and the atmosphere is very relaxed.  They have no organist but the churchwarden's husband has created a system that plays the hymns through the organ pipes, creating a sound which feels as though it belongs to that particular church.  

Sadly some parts of the church are no longer useable as they are unsafe but despite cold, a deteriorating building, a lack of an organist and small numbers, God was praised as Christians came together in this small Lincolnshire village.  Long may it continue.
West Gallery

Saturday 14 April 2018

I never thought I would type a post like this!

Hi everyone!  Jack* here.  It's been well over a year since I posted on this blog and it's time I did, so here goes.

I haven't been to my friend's house for well over a year now because of knee problems but she's been to see me many times.  Just before Christmas she came and brought me a Santa bag which I wasn't expecting.  In it there was a woolly hat, a Christmas jumper, some cans of Mackeson, a sugar mouse, a book and a DVD each about Lincolnshire, some hand-warmers and many more things, about eighteen in fact.  If there was an award for kindness she would win it hands down.  I'm not the only one she visits so I hope the others appreciate it as much as I do.

The last sixteen months have been the worst in my life.  I was restricted in what I could do but after waiting 390 days I've finally had my knee done.  I've never had pain so bad.  I was on painkillers every two hours but now, fourteen days after the op, I can finally feel an improvement.  I just can't imagine how people on their own manage.  My wife has been brilliant .  I just couldn't have managed without her.   She's had to do everything: cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, putting the rubbish out, and taking our little dog for walks.  To make matters worse I've only been sleeping 3-4 hours a night, getting up with her help from 3am.  She must be so tired.  I say to all husbands, "Treasure, treat and look after your missis: they expect so little in return."  We have a very special anniversary celebration coming up to which my vicar friend is invited.  It will be a nice change for me to take her out for dinner but I might see the chef and ask him to put a hook or something in her's to make up for some of the stuff I've had to endure over the years.  We put on the invites that we didn't want any presents or gifts.  The only present we ever wanted all our married lives was each other.  We will enjoy our special meal with family and a few friends for a couple of hours - that will be perfect.

I'd like to finish by thanking everyone who has asked the vicar about me.  To Boyett-Brinkley, Rambler and Margie from Toronto, your kind words meant so much.  I'm sure The Vicar will keep you all up-to-date.  Once again I'm sorry I haven't written before but I've been so down in the dumps but things are now looking up..  Look after yourselves and remember that riches come from the heart, not the pocket.  Take care and God Bless.


Note by Frugally Challenged.  New(ish) readers may not know that Jack is my gardener and handyman and most of all my friend but it is rare that he is as polite about me on my blog. For explanations about "hook cuisine" see click on the labels.   Overseas readers may not know that Mackesons is Jack's favourite tipple.  It's a stout (sort of beer).  I also took  him a couple of cans yesterday so he should be a happier bunny.

Friday 13 April 2018

The Advantage of being a Lazy Gardener

Most of the time Jack keeps me in order but for the last year Jack has been hors de combat so the garden and I have each been doing our own thing.

Last autumn I forgot to give a good haircut to the lavender bushes in the front garden and today I received my (un)just reward.  I've had goldfinches in the garden.  I've been trying to entice them in with sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds but they weren't interested but they succumbed to my tatty lavender. 

You will have to look very hard to see the birds but they really are there!

In other news, I have visited Jack this morning.  He's proudly displaying shorts, surgical stockings and a wonderful scar but the pain is now subsiding a little and the cheekiness is the same as ever.  He handed something as I was leaving which will appear on the blog before too long.

And in even more other news I have booked a place on a photography course later in the year.  Not before time.

Sunday 8 April 2018


Whoever named the villages of Lincolnshire seems to have run out of inspiration at some point - or maybe someone just liked the name Normanby.

I've written about Normanby Hall several times.  It's in the hamlet of Normanby within the parish of Burton on Stather near Scunthorpe.  But that's not where I've been today.

There's a village called Normanby by Spital near to my old parishes.  The Spital bit refers to Spital in the Street, or Hospital in the street but that's not where I've been today.

Today I went to Normanby le Wold, a tiny village right at the top of the Lincolnshire Wolds.  I had a delightful drive there and had the privilege of seeing a muntjac deer.  I've never seen one so close before so it really felt like a privilege.  

I arrived at the church rather early so I lingered in the churchyard listening to the birdsong which is at its best at this time of the year.

And to crown it all the privilege of conducting worship in a delightful little church.  Truly a wonderful day.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Not-so-simple pleasure - extravagant joy!

Just look what arrived yesterday!  It wasn't a special day until these arrived.  Not my birthday, no anniversary, I hadn't done anything special for anyone but a dear friend decided that it might be a day when I would like some flowers.  How lovely is that!  

My dear friend Amy and I rarely exchange birthday or Christmas presents or cards.  We visit each other, meeting for two or three days once a year.  We've been friends well over thirty year and indeed shared a house for many years.  It's one of those friendships where we can pick up the threads within minutes and take joy in each other's company.

And yesterday she sent me this bunch of pure unmerited joy.  I am truly blessed in my friendships. 

Monday 2 April 2018


Usually when I post about churches where I have been leading worship I am writing about very traditional buildings but yesterday I went to somewhere very different.

Back in the 1939 to 1945 war, Lincolnshire had a lot of RAF stations.  Gradually over the years the vast majority have closed with many reverting to farm land.  However, some have become new villages, including the old RAF Binbrook which has become the new village of Brookenby.

The old sergeants' mess has become the Church of St Michael and All Angels.  I've been there a few times and yesterday the churchwarden was waiting outside to wish me "Happy Easter" before we went in to get ready for the service.  The room used for worship is multi purpose and very flexible and before the service started I had re-arranged it a bit but you get the idea.

And it was a wonderful. joyful service.  The people there are great!  They were a bit surprised at how loudly I can shout "Hallelujah!  Christ is risen!" but they soon got the idea and we shouted at each other with great joy.  Hymns were accompanied by a piano and there was a bit of impromptu dialogue during the sermon, something which doesn't often happen in the C of E!  (I wish it did!)

I could not have had a more glorious Easter Day,