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Saturday 31 December 2022

L is for Looking back and Looking forward

The first New Year after I started this blog I used this well-known quote.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

 That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

 From 2015 to 2018 I had the same New Year resolution

In 2019 I amended it to

Be even more awesome than last year!

2020 I seem to have ignored the new year!

Back at the beginning of 2021 I found this quote from Tennyson

"Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘It will be happier.’" 

At the beginning of 2022 my quote was from Ann Frank

"What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven't even happened yet.”

I love New Year!  I know it's fashionable to poo-poo resolutions but I enjoy the planning, the permission to make a new start.  I have been truly blessed in 2022 and I'm looking forward to 2023.   I hope you will be too.

If you think the "Looking back, looking forward" (Janus) at the top of this post is a little unusual, you are right.  It shows Margaret Thatcher and Michael Heseltine, implacable opponents over the poll tax.  22nd November 1990 was the date Mrs Thatcher resigned.  The carving is on a half timbered building in Shrewsbury.  

Friday 30 December 2022

K is for Knitting

 I don't think of myself as a knitter.  I don't do fancy stitches or work with a multitude of colours.  I just cast on around ninety stitches on a circular needle and start to knit.

I like the rhythm of knitting.  I'm not a great TV watcher but I like my audiobooks so I knit to a background of silence or a great story.  The knitting occupies my fingers and my mind can wander where it wills.  

And what I knit with those ninety stitches is scarves.  I have two in progress most of the time.  The first uses any wools that I am given and a few that I have bought.  I knit two inch stripes until the scarf is almost six feet long then I cast off and add a fringe. Those scarves go to a local charity helping homeless people.  

The other scarf is destined for my own neck.  I record the highest temperature reached in Caistor (where I live) every day.  I have a different colour for each degree Celsius and I started with one row a day on my seventieth birthday and will end on my seventy second birthday. 


Friday 23 December 2022



One of our local churches is having a lunch tomorrow for people who live alone.  I wanted to help so I offered to make some gifts for people to take home.

It took quite a while!

Thursday 22 December 2022


Robbie the tartan reindeer. 

 What did Santa say when he and Mrs Claus gazed up into the sky?

It looks like rain, dear!

Another item to escape from my sewing machine.

Thursday 15 December 2022

Gnome,sweet gnome

 There seems to be an invasion of little fellas.  I think Santa may remove them.  Each has consumed a whole bottle of prosecco, so they may be on his naughty list.

What will my sewing machine get up to next?

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Head above parapet


I had great ideas for December but on the first day of the month I woke crying out with pain.  I think I may have slept very awkwardly but the pain took several days to subside.  Then the dizziness started.  I've never had this problem before but Christmas lights in a spinning room adds a certain originality to the season.  

Anyway the spinning has downgraded itself to the occasional pirouette so I am now starting on the usual December things except that I won't drive.

Focussing on one very definite  thing seemed to help my head so I was able to sew.  These are a couple of the bags I have made. 


Monday 28 November 2022

Donna Nook

 I've had one of my favourite days out last week.  I went to Donna Nook.

This little chap is just a few minutes old and is still stained yellow

At first sight Donna Nook isn't very appealing.  It's an RAF range on a salt marsh next to the North Sea.  Salt marshes next to the North Sea have very limited appeal in November!  Or rather they have very little appeal for humans.  Halichoerus grypus thinks it absolutely wonderful!

Halichoerus grypus?  That's the hook-nosed sea pig or grey seal.  Donna Nook is a favourite birthing site with over 2000 seals born last year.  The site is managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and, thanks to their efforts, seals and humans co-exist very peacefully.

There's a double fence between humans and seals and the seals seem to regard homo sapiens as being provided for their entertainment.  There's less than a metre between them and us, necessary to stop us touching them (our smell on a seal pup might make its mother abandon it) and to stop them biting us (their teeth are like those of dogs).  

Tuesday 22 November 2022

J is for Jack

 I wouldn't like to say that hints have been dropped on this one, but hints have been dropped!

He first came as my chimney sweep about twenty five years ago ago.  So far so good.

Then he came to see me about his daughter's wedding.  As he left he said, "Your garden looks a mess" to which I replied, "If you think it looks a mess, you do something about it!"  Which he did.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

He moved from being the chimney sweep to being the gardener, to being the handyman and gradually he became my friend.  And I conducted the weddings of both his children and the funerals of both his parents and his brother.    My need to isolate during the pandemic meant that I couldn't do the same for his wife when she died but I was able to write material for someone else to read at the funeral.  
You may have noticed that Jack and I moan about each other.  Sometimes I have been very tempted to give my side of some of the things he writes about but I have admirable restraint.  Jack doesn't. 

We talk on the phone most mornings and he often calls me Joan.  Or Ann.  Or Hazel.  But he also calls Joan, Ann and Hazel Mary.  Or he may even call them Vicar.  That confuses them

But thank you Jack.  For what you do in my garden.  For your friendship.  And for the rare times you do actually call me Mary

Sunday 13 November 2022

St Peter's, Normanby le Wold. Treasuring.

I've been to the highest point in the wolds today, to the tiny village of Normanby.  These villages with a population of about 60 are quite common in this part of Lincolnshire but each has its own church which is treasured by its community.

I feel very treasured by the congregation here.  During the pandemic, when I was fairly rigorously isolating, they made it possible for me to celebrate the Eucharist on Christmas Day.  It was the first time in over nine months that I could do so.

There has been a church here since before the Doomsday book of 1086 but the present church is much newer, dating from the thirteenth century.  By 1867 it was very dilapidated so it was "restored" and a new chancel built.  It's open daily for visitors, often people walking the Viking Way.  I helped to provide some benches so that walkers could take off their boots and have a good look around without fearing of leaving muddy footprints!

It is cleaned (and loved!) by a wonderful lady and she is a treasure!  During the pandemic I was one of a group of well wishers who assembled (socially distanced of course) to sing Happy Birthday when she was ninety.

Friday 11 November 2022

Patriotism is not enough

 Nurse Edith Cavell was the daughter of a country parson.  The Reverend Frederick Cavell brought up his children to have care for those less fortunate than themselves.  Edith became a governess and she didn’t start to train as a nurse until she was 35 and in 1910 she was recruited to be matron of a newly established nursing school in Brussels. 

 When World War I broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk but she returned to Brussels where she began sheltering British soldiers and getting them to the neutral Netherlands.   It wasn’t just Brits either: she sheltered British and French soldiers and Belgians and French of military age. She was arrested and charged with harbouring Allied soldiers.  She was held in prison for 10 weeks, the last two in solitary confinement. She admitted she had helped about 60 British and 15 French injured soldiers and about 100 French and Belgians of military age.

 She made no attempt to deny the charges and she even told the court that the soldiers she had helped escape thanked her in writing when arriving safely in Britain. This established that she helped them escape to a country at war with Germany.  As the case stood, the sentence according to German military law was death.

 The German civil governor said that Edith should be pardoned because of her complete honesty and because she had helped save so many lives, German as well as Allied. However, the military governor of Brussels ordered that the execution of Edith Cavell should be carried out immediately.

 The night before her execution, she told the Reverend Stirling Gahan, the Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her and to give her Holy Communion, "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.  I have no fear or shrinking; I have seen death so often it is not strange, or fearful to me!”

 One of the first memorials to her was unveiled in October 1918, even before the war was over when Queen Alexander opened a nurses’ home named after her in Norwich. 


Wednesday 9 November 2022

I is for Ingenuity

It's going to take a little effort to think of topics for each letter of the alphabet (although Sue is steaming through them!) and Imagination and Ingenuity will be called for.

But there is huge satisfaction in using ingenuity to solve a problem!  I enjoy solving sudoku and crossword puzzles but they cannot compete with the satisfaction I find in thinking of a substitute for an ingredient needed for a recipe but absent from my cupboard.  Or finding a route to avoid roadworks.  Or making do and mending rather than going out and buying more stuff.  

There is such satisfaction in a lightbulb moment!  When one has almost felt defeated by a problem and suddenly a solution pops into one's head and it really works!  Roll on lightbulb moments!

Now, I wonder if a little ingenuity could help me find a subject for J?  Somehow, I don't think that will be too difficult!  (Somebody has been dropping hints!)

Tuesday 8 November 2022

H is for Home

Home is my favourite place anywhere!  There is nowhere on earth I would rather be,   Here I can really be myself.  I'm happy to show you the outside of my house, but inside it's home, my personal space and I share only very small areas on my blog.

It's where I can totally relax, where I can sit and think.  

It's where I can plan and dream about the future, and reflect on the past.

It's where I can welcome others.  When people come I can share who I am and who they are.  

It's where I can weep and where I can rage, if that's how life grabs me.  And then I can dry my tears and recover my composure at my own pace.  

It's where I can truly explore.  I don't need to go anywhere else to learn about the world, new skills or new experiences, unless I want to. 

When I leave these four walls I am secure in knowing that back here my home will be waiting for me.

To be homeless, to be a refugee, to be on the streets is unimaginable misery and those who have no real home are a worry to me, as are those whose home is a place of fear or abuse.  

Thank God for my home!

Monday 7 November 2022

Stainton le Vale


Stainton le Vale isn’t one of the largest places I have ever been to as it has a population of just 50.  Yesterday there were 8 people in church but some were from other surrounding parishes as well.  We even had a lady who had come from Derby, about ninety miles away!  She visits the area regularly and likes to try a new church each time she comes. 

It was the old Book of Common Prayer service with a sermon but no hymns.  Last month they had their very popular Harvest Festival and next month they will have an equally popular Carol Service. 

Stainton is steeped in history. There is evidence of Roman habitation and an Anglo-Saxon settlement and there are some of the most extensive mediaeval earthworks in the country. The present church dates from about 1100AD but of course most is from later periods.

It’s a church which is open most days and stands as a silent witness to God as it has for over 900 years

Friday 4 November 2022


 TWO?  That Was October!  
It was the month I turned 71 and celebrated suitably.  In fact, two weeks on, I am still going out for birthday meals.  I was supposed to go out today but a friend has the dreaded C***d so we have had to postpone

I've been doing a lot of craft courses,  We have a local set-up called CLIP, Community Learning in Partnership, and I have done a Christmas fabric craft course and a rag quilting course with them.  Both are on-going but I thought you might like to meet my gnome.  I have called him Dopey.  The rag quilting is with pre-loved fabrics which I've found in charity shops.  

I've also done an on-line macrame course with Hobbycraft and made two trees and a star.  It was supposed to be a garland but I may detach the things from the garland and just hang on my tree.


I had my breast screening and got the all-clear again so that also makes me very happy.

I have been rather active in leading worship and have visited several new-to-me churches which I may write about sometime.  

Not a bad month.  (Except that Blogger is being even more temperamental than usual.)

Wednesday 26 October 2022

For Sue

 Sue, at a smaller and simpler life, challenged us to publish three photos of ourselves.  Sue, I accept your challenge!

Here's my blog picture.  I was less than two years when this was taken so it's around seventy years old

Now for the scary one.  I was at a village event and allowed the children to tell the face painter what to do.  They took great advantage of my weakness!

And my most recent photo. taken Sunday

Tuesday 4 October 2022

G is for garden

The last few cosmos of summer

 The garden hasn't been as good as usual this year because I am waiting to have various alterations done to the house and that will risk damaging plants.   I chose not to buy lots of bedding plants rather than let them be run over by a digger.  However, the Mighty Jack has been doing his usual thing so it has still been pleasant to wander around my plot.  

The front garden is referred to as Jack's garden.  This means that he is allowed rather more leeway than in "my" garden which is behind the house.  He disapproves of poppies, hebes, foxgloves and lots of other things which I can't remember at the moment. (It's quite a long list!) I find it rather comforting that he disapproves of more than just me.  He didn't come for a while a few years  ago (health and family issues) so I snuck in various things.  Somehow, though, there weren't many poppies this year.  He doesn't know where they went, or so he says. 
The last of the summer veg and the promise of winter goodies!

I am allowed to have what I want in the back garden.  What I want is flowers and vegetables.  He doesn't mind that either but I insist they have to be grown together.  Personally I think that an obelisk covered with runner beans is a glory in any flower bed while tagetes and snapdragon deter various pests and attract bees and beneficial insects in the veg plot.  

Monday 3 October 2022

F is for friends


Really it should be that a Gold Star is for friends.  I've collected them all my life.  Here are a few.

First S.  Her parents were friends of my parents and we started school together.  These days our friendship is mostly conducted by Christmas letters and the occasional e mail but last year I had the privilege of conducting her mum's funeral.  That wonderful lady used to hide several of is when we bunked off from cross country at school!   S and I spent a hilarious afternoon remembering each other's mothers.

A little later I met A.  She had spent her early years in Northern Ireland and the family moved here during The Troubles.  Again we knew each other's family and a few years ago I went to her mum's ninetieth birthday party - once again a hilarious time of reminiscing.

I got E from a jumble sale!   I was behind a stall at a sale to raise funds for Girl Guides.  E was quite a tough haggler at such events so we got talking.  I mentioned that I was hoping to set up a new Guide Company and she offered to help.  Nearly fifty years later she is living in France but we email regularly and still see each other once a year.

M also came along to help at Guides.  We were in the same church and she had a young daughter who wanted to join Guides.  Several years later I conducted the daughter's wedding.  M is now very house bound but we phone each other weekly and I think both if us have smiles on our faces for quite a while after the call has ended.

J came as my chimney sweep.  When he had done the job he told me that he always gave his clients a gift before he left.  That year it was shoe polish.  In subsequent years he gave me rum flavoured bubble bath, Winnie the Pooh sticking plasters and a bunch of carrots with a knife to scrape them.  Just in case you haven't realised J is Jack - you can find out more about him if you click on "Jack" in the sidebar. 

I could go on about friends I have met through Church, about my neighbours and about people I met casually but wanted to know better.  All of them are precious to me.  Here's a round I learnt in Guides many years ago

Make new friends, but keep the old

One is silver and the other gold.

Saturday 1 October 2022

E is for Enegy and EDF

 I am not one of nature's ranters but EDF has got right up my nose!

I think I am one of the luckiest people on the planet because I bought a thirty month energy fix last August before prices went haywire.  My monthly direct debit is very low now compared to many especially as I have built up a large credit over the last year.  I've had a more efficient  boiler installed and I have been replacing quite a few appliances with energy efficient jobbies as the old ones have come to the end of their life.

Where I am not lucky is in my smart meter!  I am very pro smart meter and I used to have one which worked well and definitely helped me reduce my usage.  However, it was replaced about eighteen months ago and the new one, although it is supposed to be smart is DUMB!  It won't communicate with EDF and the in-home display won't work either.  

I complained to EDF and an engineer came and said the chances of it ever communicating with EDF are negligible and it needs replacing but EDF won't do that.  My meters have to be read manually and as I am disabled that is difficult for me - which is why I want a smart meter.  Initially they said they would read quarterly (because of my disability), then they said annually, and now it will be only once every two years!!!  

It is read only biennially so I will receive an accurate bill only once every two years.  The corrections will be made at the end of those two years at the rate chargeable at that time.    I shall have to ask other people to read it for me.

This makes me really angry.  The change of frequency has received no publicity and it will hit vulnerable people very hard.   I am OK but please help anyone who might need help in meter reading and submission of readings.

Friday 30 September 2022

D is for Deacon

 I decided not to write a post yesterday because I wanted to save "D" for today, the anniversary of my ordination as a Deacon.

Dressed as a Deacon ready to officiate at my first wedding

It was in 1990 that I was ordained in Leicester Cathedral, now famous as the burial place of Richard III.  In the Church of England and some other churches, the diaconate is the first stage of ordained ministry but in some other churches deacons are not ordained.  However they are appointed, deacons are a sign of servanthood in the church.  The word "deacon" actually means "servant".  Our ordination service says 

"Deacons are ordained so that the people of God may be better equipped to make Christ known. Theirs is a life of visible self-giving. Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others"

Although I have since been ordained priest, I will always be a deacon, a servant.  I value this ministry.

But ordination cannot compare to baptism, that sacrament in which "Christ claimed me for his own".  What a blessing!

Wednesday 28 September 2022

C is for Christmas

 I almost started this post by saying "Sorry about that" but I don't feel apologetic  There are eighty eight more sleeps before Christmas so no need to panic, but I want to get a good start on my preparations now. 

I know I've said this before, but when I was in the regular vicars I knew I had to have my personal Christmas prepared (cards written, presents bought and wrapped etc) by the end of October or I didn't get a personal Christmas.  November I prepared my professional Christmas and then in December I went to all the carol services, Christmas parties and general socialising that I was invited to and still had time for the funerals and pastoral visiting which are part of every minister's everyday life.  

Once I retired I let early preparation slip a bit, but last year I made a very determined effort to get ready for Christmas really early, and I was so glad that I did.  December I was able to enjoy Advent and then Christmas, I was able to reflect and pray and the real meaning of Christmas was able to shine though the razzmatazz.  

So, here are two of the first presents I have made.  I made something similar for several friends last year but these are destined for friends who live in different parts of the country.  Each wreath will have to be mailed so they are robust enough to be posted.  My cards are written but left unsealed in case of last minute messages.  

Tuesday 27 September 2022

B is for blogging

You've probably realised that I am struggling a little to get back to blogging.  I doubt if I will get to thinking about what X, Y and Z are for but B for Blogging sounds like a good idea.

But why blog anyway?  It's a question which appears on many blogs from time to time and it's a question which probably occurs to most bloggers rather frequently, especially when they can't think what to write about.  I am in awe of people who publish every day!

I blog because I enjoy writing.  Each post is very carefully considered and I try very hard to use just the right words and careful grammar.  I like the feeling of contact with other people, most of whom I have never met - thank you anyone who comments.  I like reading other people's blogs and this is my contribution to the blogosphere.  

I have a Facebook account which I never use and I don't bother with Twitter, Instagram or anything else.  I don't approve comments before they are published but I delete any that are "dodgy".  I've never worked out why anyone would try and advertise escort services in Mumbai on a blog belonging to a retired lady vicar in Lincolnshire!   

Monday 26 September 2022

A is for Autumn


Autumn.  It was so exciting to go back to school in the autumn when I was a child.  It was the time we got a new teacher and, four times in my school career, it was the time when I started at a new school.  For three of those I had a new school uniform and then there was the bliss of Sixth Form College and no uniform at all.  

There were seasonal games,  especially conkers.  Leaf kicking was pretty good too.  Seasonal activities included the auditions and first rehearsals for the school play.  And as the term wore on we started to learn new carols for the end of term carol service.

Foods changed too.  Stews were the order of the day and Mother would be well into jam and chutney making.  The house smelt wonderful.

As I get older I worry a little about fuel bills but I love wrapping myself in blankets and throw in my armchair.  I rather like my thick winter tights and cosy jumpers too.  Christmas is to be planned for and delightful meals with friends anticipated.

I rather like autumn!  How about you?

Saturday 3 September 2022

Quirky Garden

 Not from here is the Walled Garden at Baumber.  It's one of the quirkiest gardens I've ever visited.  

The tea room and snack shack are both built from reclaimed doors and windows.

Despite being several miles from the sea there are beach huts and a boat.

And, despite being thousands of miles from Egypt there's a Pharaoh and a crocodile.

I shall be going back very soon!

Tuesday 23 August 2022

A Previous Playtime

 Writing about my lino cutting playtime reminded me that I haven't blogged about some playtime I had in July.  I went on a hand sewing workshop but I have to confess I brought my stuff home and finished it by machine!
Several ideas for small gifts I feel.  
But maybe without the wobble on the coaster.
Fabric pot

Wobbly coaster



Key fob