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Wednesday 31 October 2018

So how was October?

In short, not bad at all, thank you for asking. 

First of all the bad - let's get that out of the way.  Here's my original list for October

Start scanning the family tree
Knit at least a sleeve on the sweater
Persevere with the crochet.
Take a harvest festival.  
Get my sewing machine back and get the skirt made.
Make the stocking and wrap the stuff to go in it.
Make that freezer inventory.

Well, let's say it's easier to say what I did than list what I didn't.  I'm just about at the cuff on the sweater (knitted on a circular needle starting from the top), I took the Harvest Festival, retrieved my sewing machine and got quite a bit done on the skirt, and defrosted and sorted the freezer.

However I have been by no means idle.
I knitted two hats for a charity and one scarf as a Christmas present.
I went to WI at Brigg and learnt about wet felting.  (I'd done some wet felting years ago but it was still interesting.)
I did a lot of visiting of sick, elderly or lonely people.
I conducted two funerals.
I lead worship each Sunday.
I had two competition wins and a small win on a free lotto.
And I treated myself to a back massage yesterday to round off the month.

So now to plan November!

Monday 29 October 2018


This is a very quick post as I have two tickets for the Spirit of Christmas Fair which I have won but find myself unable to use.  The fair is at Olympia (London) and the tickets are valid for any day from Tuesday 30th October to Sunday 4th November.  If they are of any use to you please email me using the link on my profile page.  

Saturday 27 October 2018

Another year older

I'm the world's biggest kid about birthdays.  I still love them!

When I was a child it was the presents which brought the greatest pleasure but these days it's the good wishes of old friends.  I think I get more cards each year.  I love the feeling of good will!
I have two very good friends, both single women, and we all go out for each other's birthday.  Nothing elaborate, just lunch at a local pub but good food and good company makes a perfect combination.

And to crown it all, flowers.  My friends all know that I love flowers and these days it's good to receive things which won't clutter my house for ever.  So here are some of my flowers.  

Only three hundred and sixty days to my next birthday!

Monday 22 October 2018

And the winner is. . .

I did the hatty thing and the winner is

Jo, I've just tried to send you an email asking for your address but failed.  Could you try the email address on my profile, please?  Thank you.

Many thanks to everyone who left comments

Sunday 21 October 2018

North Owersby

North Owersby is a place which always gets me wondering. The church is well away from the rest of the village with only the old vicarage and a few newish houses nearby.  I suppose like many Lincolnshire villages the village gradually moved away from the church.

The church was rebuilt in 1792 using mediaeval masonry, and then altered completely in 1888.  It's very light and airy but not the prettiest of churches.

Well it's not pretty until you look at the windows.  At first glance they're nothing to write home about (or even write a blog post about).

But look again  Look at the little roundels at the top of each window.

I go into many churches but I've never seen such sweet little roundels.  British birds, the same birds as sing in the churchyard.  Wonderful!

Friday 19 October 2018

Funerals 2

So, what do I do after I've been to talk to the family?

The first thing is to type up my notes from the visit - often not an easy task as I have difficulties in reading my own handwriting!  If the visit has been the usual mixture of tears and laughter I won't have been exactly careful how I write and the information will be in a very haphazard order.  I need to get the notes sorted as soon as possible if I am to make any sense of them.

Then I have to contact anyone else who needs to be on board.  If the service is to be at a crematorium this isn't difficult - I just tell the Funeral Director the hymns and any special instruction and s/he does the rest.  If it's in church I have to check that no-one else will be doing things in church at the same time eg organ tuners or flower arrangers.  I need to find an organist.  The churchwardens need to know what is happening so they can make sure that there will be a verger or sidesmen and indeed that the church will be unlocked.  Cleaners need to know so the church will be at its best - dead or dying flowers never improved any service.  Heating may be needed.  If the burial is to be in a churchyard the plot needs to be allocated and marked ready for the gravedigger.  This is quite a long list and as I am no longer "the vicar" of the churches where I conduct funerals I have to be extra careful to make sure that everyone is on-board..  

But it is in my study that the real work of preparing a funeral is done.  I do a lot of funerals but I care deeply about each one.  I know that there is a family missing a much loved member.  No funeral is ever routine.  I am to thank God for a life which was unique and to speak on behalf of his/her family.  It is there in front of my computer screen that my hardest job is done.  Often I have listened to deeply moving stories and my own emotions may be in turmoil.  I need to pray not just for the families but for myself, that I may say helpful things.

The day of the funeral I make sure I have nothing to do before the funeral and these days, preferably nothing else to do all day.  That's a luxury I couldn't have before I retired.  I wear robes to take the service but I also make sure that my day clothes are suitable for that particular funeral - for example if a woman died of breast cancer the family may have decided to wear pink so I wear a pink  clerical shirt in case I am expected to go to the reception afterwards.  I try and be at least three quarters of an hour early at church (or twenty minutes early at a crematorium) to make sure everything is ready and to give myself time to talk to mourners.  

Most funerals take between twenty and thirty minutes - at a crematorium the time is very strictly regulated but there is more leeway for a service in church.  Some families want to read poems or read tributes and I have to keep an eye on the time at a crematorium chapel and may need to speed up the rest of the service.  I also need to keep everything suitably respectful without being "heavy".

After the service I go to the reception or wake if asked.  I always print out the text of my address or eulogy and give this to the family.  This is usually appreciated but I give it in an envelope so if they want to they can bin it unread.  

The family will be in my prayers for quite a while after the funeral and I'll usually try and visit after the funeral and at the first anniversary of the death. 

Thursday 18 October 2018

Funerals 1

I realise that a post about funerals is a little unusual but at times funerals seem to dominate my life!  However, most people have to organise very few funerals and I wondered if a little information from my point of view would be helpful

As you know I am a retired vicar.  Until nearly nine years ago I was vicar of five parishes in rural Lincolnshire but although I have retired I still take a couple of funerals a month.  This might sound weird but I enjoy taking funerals - it's really satisfying making a very difficult day a little less daunting.  The regular clergy could be overwhelmed by the sheer number of funerals so help is needed from people like me.

Maybe you've had to organise a funeral and you've felt a little embarrassed because the person you've loved wasn't the most regular of churchgoers and you're not sure how the vicar will be with that.  I can promise you that the vicar is very well used to that situation - it's true of the vast majority of funerals which I take.  I'm just happy to help.  (By the way, I'm saying "vicar" because that's the usual term in the Church of England but much of what I say here would be true of any Christian minister.)

Often the first thing that happens from my point of view is that I get a call from a Funeral Director.  We'll work out a suitable time for a service, s/he will tell me if it will be a cremation or burial and we'll make outline arrangements.  S/he will check back with the family and then send me details - age, next-of-kin, as well as timings.  These days it's easy to get all that sorted using e mail.

Once I have the necessary information the first thing is that the family is in my prayers.  I've been bereaved myself, I've had to organise funerals, and I've appreciated the prayers of others.  I'll then contact the family and make arrangements to visit them.  I try and make this fairly soon as I want the families to feel confident that I'm"on the case".  Often I make more than one visit.  

When I visit I take the information which the funeral director has sent and I try to get a feel for the sort of funeral which is wanted.  Often the family will want a thanksgiving for a life.  It's helpful if they've written down a few facts but I try and get stories, opinions, little ideas about how the person lived his or her life.  I try and make every funeral as personal as possible but I can do that only of the family gives me some material to work with.  Because I work in rural communities I find that even if I don't know the family I know someone else who does, and I ask if it's OK to talk to those mutual friends.  I don't think I've ever been asked not to.  I make loads of notes and it's often a session filled with both tears and laughter as we talk about a much loved husband or mum, sister or uncle.  Before I leave I always say a prayer with the family.  

In my next post I'll write about what I do after this visit.

If you want to email me rather than leave a comment there's a link on my profile page.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Holton le Moor

I've been to Holton le Moor to take the service.  I've known Holton most of my life as I went to  Pack Holiday in the Moot Hall when I was a Brownie and then went camping here when I was in the Guides.  Girlguiding still has strong links here as the old school is now their County House.  

Moot Hall is a wonderful place.  It looks incredibly ancient but it was actually built in 1910.  

Today though I was here to lead worship in St Luke's church.  Its rather large for such a small village but it is well loved.  I get very well looked after there.  (It's the church where I was given some harvest produce a couple of weeks ago.)

It was a nerve-racking service.  Two great tits decided to join in the worship.  I'm phobic about birds in enclosed spaces.  Why is it that birds indoors are always the size of vultures?  

I think the congregation was amused anyway.  

Friday 12 October 2018

Pre Christmas Giveaway

Well, as you've seen I'm well into getting ready for Christmas!  

I've got this little wooden nativity set to give away.  It was made at The Rock Foundation, our local charity which supports young adults with learning disabilities.  They have various fund raising enterprises.  I'm a year-round supporter of their tea room!  (No surprises there.)  

This nativity set is very light and packs flat so it will be easy for you to pack away after Christmas.  The scene just slots into its base and must stand on a firm surface.  It also means that I am happy to post it anywhere world-wide.  
 All you need to do is to leave a comment below.  I'll draw a name out of the hat on Sunday 21st October after which the winner will have two days to let me know where to send it.  

Tuesday 9 October 2018

That Christmas stocking for a man will be very full

I have never had so many hits so quickly as I had for the last post and my suspicion is that I won't be the only one using the list!  With that in mind I've summarised the list below and will update if any more suggestions come in.  Huge thanks for all your help

Grocery voucher
Shaving balm
Miniature spirits
Chocolate orange
Chocolate spanner
Mini shower gel
Kitchen items
Something from Flying Tiger
Homemade cookies
Homemade fudge
Hot chocolate sachets,
Mini bottle of wine

all to be added to my own paltry list of socks, a demister pad (for the car) and a mug,

Monday 8 October 2018

Help needed (Sorry, Christmas again!)

Just 78 days to go.  Sorry about that.

I need a little help.  I want to make a Christmas stocking for a man in his forties who will be spending Christmas on his own.  A solitary Christmas is his choice just for this year, but I want to make sure he still has a Christmas.  I always spend Christmas Day alone - again my choice - and I appreciate the stocking a friend makes for me.

My problem is, what can I put in a stocking for him?  I'm looking for items below £10 in value.  I've got ideas for jokey things but when I try and think beyond socks, a demister pad (for the car) and a mug, I'm stumped.  

So, any ideas, please.  I need this one ready by the end of November.  

Sunday 7 October 2018

It's been a good week

Actually, most of my weeks are good weeks but this week I'm feeling reflective and wanted to share it.

I gave in and agreed to take two Harvest Festivals.  Both went OK.  I had a little giggle at at myself when the warden was preparing the produce to take to pensioners and asked me if I would like something.  I was about to say, "But it's for old people" then remembered that I'm a pensioner and gratefully accepted a couple of potatoes to bake and have with cheese and butter. 

I've been for my annual mammogram.  I have a high risk of breast cancer (80% risk I am told) so had a mastectomy a few years ago but I still have to go for check-ups.  Mammograms are no picnic for anyone but post mastectomy they are often excruciating but this time it wasn't too bad.  I've got a clinical examination in a couple of weeks but right now I'd like to say thank you to everyone who fund raises for cancer research.  Because of you my genetic risk has been identified and I am offered monitoring to protect myself.

I had a small competition win, this time with the date of birth lotto.  Just £10 but very nice.  (The link is possibly my referral link.  I can't check.  Sorry about that.)

A couple of weeks ago I was able to share some of my good fortune with a bloggy friend by sending her some books I had won in a another competition and when I got back from the mammogram there was a letter from her.  I always get excited at real snail-mail and in this letter was this lovely Harris tweed needlecase.  Thank you, Mama!  (Quite apart from pretty needlecases she's got a great idea for soap for children.  Take a look.)

Monday 1 October 2018

Lincolnshire Day

Today is Lincolnshire Day!  You've possibly never heard of it, but on this day in 1536 the Lincolnshire Rising, a protest against the religious reforms of Henry VIII, started in Louth where protesters from Horncastle, Market Rasen and Caistor soon joined in.  It's reckoned that about 40,000 people joined in - a considerable proportion of the county's population - but the rebellion was over by 4th October.  

We haven't been commemorating it since 1536 though.  The modern version of Lincolnshire Day started only in 2006, 480 years after the original event.  For me it's a good excuse to consume some of the lovely food which my county produces.  Here's a couple of local delicacies.

I love stuffed chine.  The chine is a cut of pork taken from between the pig's shoulder blades and preserved with salt.  It is then deeply scored and herbs, usually parsley, stuffed deep into the cuts.  It's then tied to keep it neat and simmered slowly before being sliced and eaten cold.  I like the contrasting stripes of pink and green.  Few people make it at home - I buy mine cooked and sliced.
One of my other favourites is Lincolnshire Plum Bread which doesn't contain plums and is more cake than bread.  I do sometimes make my own but I had this in a tearoom in Market Rasen last week.  As you see it is a fruit loaf, served with butter.  If I were eating it at home I would also have cheese with it.  But I wouldn't have the hot chocolate with cream which you can see I indulged myself with last week!