Monday, 31 May 2010

Murder at the Vicarage

While we were out this afternoon a fox managed to get into the chicken run. Lucy spotted it and barked and alerted Calum who went to the rescue. He managed to get the chickens into the covered run and chased the fox away but by the time he got out it had killed Juniper and badly injured Marigold who had to be put down. Richard then spent time digging holes in the garden for them (very deep, so hopefully they won't be disturbed.)
Marigold was the chicken I posted a picture of  near the beginning of this blog - she laid dark brown eggs, whilst Juniper was a Speckeldy Hen and laid speckled eggs.
Considering we have had chickens for over four years we have been fortunate not to loose any to foxes before, especially as several people locally encourage these vermin by feeding them. They wouldn't feed rats so why they feed foxes which are flea ridden I can't understand. Several local dog owners have had problems with dogs bringing in fleas from foxes which have become resistant to treatments such as Frontline.

Rainham Marshes

Richard and I went down to the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes this afternoon. Despite it being so close to home we'd never visited before. The weather wasn't great; overcast and spits and spots of rain but we had a good time. There were lots of birds around including sand martins, swifts, egrets, herons, reed buntings, reed warbler, goldfinches, coots, moorhen, shelduck, tufted duck & lapwings. The well laid out walkway was about 3 miles long so just enough for a gentle stroll. The marshland discovery centre gave good views over the scrape and there is one hide, with a second one due to open soon. Well worth dropping in if you're close enough. I'm looking forward to visiting again.

Sunday, 30 May 2010


We went to a baptism in Manor Park this afternoon. The service was held in the little church of St Mary the Virgin, Little Ilford, which dates back to the 12th century and is possibly built on the site of an earlier church. It was good to be back there as we were once regular congregation members of the parish and worshipped at St Mary's while St Michael's was being rebuilt in 1989 - 1990. The small church was full with family, friends and congregation members as we celebrated Sophie's baptism.
It is amazing to think of the number of times that there must have been similar gatherings over the centuries as individuals have been welcomed as members of the Christian community. Indeed both Graeme and Calum were baptised at St Mary's.
The altar frontal in my photo was made about 20 years ago by a member of the congreagtion who was a member of our housegroup.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Saturday at home

A full set of eggs today. Hope you appreciate that one of the hens even writes the date on her eggs!

Had a barbecue this evening, in between the showers. We were glad of the chiminea with the warming fire. Lemon meringue pie (made with fresh eggs) for pudding.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Christ be our light

Christ Be Our Light

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has power to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Christ, be our light...

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

Christ, be our light...

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Christ, be our light...

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

Christ, be our light...


© Bernadette Farrell


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Tuesday 25th May - the bigger picture

I broke my journey back from Exeter with a stop at Stourhead, I thought I might as well get the most from my National Trust membership card. The gardens were a wonderful place for a walk and a chance to stretch my legs before having lunch where I was joined at a nearby table by this Chaffinch.

While strolling round the gardens and enjoying the marvellous views across the lake, I appreciated the shade from the trees and the fact that it was slightly cooler than Monday. It was great to be able to appreciate the sweeping landscape with the variety of follys tucked in amongst the trees. At the same time I could see the minute details of individual plants. It made me think about parish ministry and how we constantly have to juggle holding together the bigger picture and at the same time keep focused on the detail. We need to be able to have a vision which encompasses the big picture but ensuring that the tiny details are not ignored. It can be easy to rush into something because the overarching vision is exciting but without the nuts and bolts needed to hold it all together the danger is everything will come crumbling down around us.

The flip side of this is that we pay too much attention to the details and forget what the larger focus is on. It can be hard at times to hold together lots of others as some want to jump in with both feet while others are cautiously dipping a toe in the water.

Monday 24th May - Sidmouth

Yesterday evening I drove down to Exeter to spend a couple of nights visiting friends who retired there earlier this year. I have known them since I first moved to London when I was 21. We have shared much over the years and they have been important supports to Richard and I in our journeys to ordination and our resulting ministries. Another friend who also lives near Exeter came over on Monday. With the hot sunshine a trip to the seaside was the sensible option so we headed off to Sidmouth.

We had the most delicious crab sandwiches at clock tower tearooms in Connaught Gardens, where we had views over Jacobs Ladder. We then had a stroll into town where we sat on the edge of the beach eating local ice-cream.

On returning to Exeter the challenge was to help put together a swing seat.

Sunday 23rd May - Finished Mosaics

I finished my chicken mosaic. I also made a couple of tiles; the first as a way of practising techniques of cutting tiles and placing them, the second because I had some spare time. Perhaps subconsciously the red tile was a tribute to the flames of Pentecost.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


The mosaic weekend is being led by Kate Rattray, a mosaic artist. Having never tried mosaic before I felt quite uncertain  as to how this would be. I'm having great fun; it's surprisingly addictive, some of the others have gone back through to the workroom to continue as they couldn't wait until the morning.
We began by making a simple coaster to give us an idea of how to cut and place the tiles. After this we transferred our designs onto our boards and then began cutting and sticking - just like being back at primary school but using glass and tiles rather than paper. I've got several cuts on my fingers and a lovely pair of blood blisters where the cutters missed the tile and got my palm instead!
My effort isn't brilliant but it's my first go. I need to finish tiling tomorrow and then to grout it. I'll post a couple of pictures so you can see the progress so far.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Basildon park & Ammerdown

Today I travelled to the Ammerdown Centre near Bath for a mosaic weekend. En route I stopped at Basildon Park, a National Trust property which was used for the location of the film of Pride & Prejudice. One of the rooms contained some of the design studies made by Graham Sutherland for his tapestry "Christ in Glory" which is in Coventry Cathedral - they were very moving. The house is surrounded by lots of parkland, at the moment the buttercups were rampant.


It's been a hot day; it reached 27 as I was driving down the M4 - thank goodness my car has air conditioning.


We spent some time this evening taking photos and sketching in the garden as we looked for inspiration for designs for our mosaics. I'm looking forward to finding out more about mosaics, their history & how to make them tomorrow. Hopefully by Sunday evening I'll have been able to create something...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

My Shadow

As children most of us are fascinated by shadows, there is something about the way our shadow is almost always with us; it often becomes an imaginary friend. How many of us enjoyed making shadow animals on the wall, perhaps we still do! I think JM Barrie was very aware of this attraction when we hear of Peter Pan's shadow being trapped in a drawer and then sewn back on by Wendy. 
I was reminded of a poem I loved reading as a child.
My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson


From Child's Garden of Verses

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

church - a presence in the community

It's been a strange evening...
Richard answered the phone and was asked if he was a priest. He was then told to "have a pen and paper and write this down" He was given an address and as he was trying to work out whether it was his parish or mine was informed that there was a dead person at the address. The person wouldn't give their details but just said they wanted the police to be told but didn't want to be involved.
Richard rang the police and passed on all the information he had. There were then several calls about the situation during the evening, including one confirming that there was indeed a dead person at the given address.
An event like this makes you start asking all sorts of questions and wondering who the deceased was, who the person who called was, why they didn't want to talk to the police, and many, many more besides.
I got to wondering about why they rang us and why they thought a vicarage would be a good place to phone. There was traffic noise in the background of the phone call - was the person standing outside the church reading the phone number on the notice board? It is often said that the church has lost its place in society and is no longer relevant in the community but I think the phone call we received shows this not to be true. The person felt that they needed to contact the police but for some reason didn't want to do that themselves. They chose to find a church to phone and ask the clergy to pass on the message. This says something to me of their feeling that they could trust that the message would be passed on, yet their anonymity be preserved. Why chose a church and not one of the shops, pubs or anyone else? Perhaps it shows that the church is still seen as being enough part of the estabishment that it carries some authority.
When I was planning to keep this blog for my Sabbatical I proposed to take photos as I saw things and then to reflect on the pictures and perhaps something on what it said to me but today I had the thoughts and then tried to create a photo which somehow reflected the thoughts. In the picture the cross is present but is partly obscured and seems distant. I wonder if the same can be said of the church, it is present but not always seen; some people feel that it has nothing to say to them and is barely noticeable. However when people find themselves in a time of difficulty they often turn to the church and a place which seemed out of touch comes closer and becomes available to them.

Monday, 17 May 2010

I'm back

Back home & about to have dinner!

travel update

Aberdeen airport is now closed 'til 1300, I've been able to rebook for the 1400 flight. It did take 45 mins listening to corny music to be able to do this!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Airports closed

Aberdeen airport and Heathrow have announced that they will be closed from 0100 to 0700, further announcements to follow. I might be here longer than planned.

Friday, 14 May 2010


It's often easy to forget that Aberdeen is still a working port. Only five minutes walk from the busy shops of Union Street and the new Union Square shopping centre is the fish market, harbour and ferry port.

I think its great visiting nephews - one asked why I have to go home on Monday and can't stay until the Monday the next week, another said to his Mum when asked if I looked like Daddy that I did but with fewer grey hairs; cue one happy Aunty Morag and one grumpy Daddy!

There will be no miracles here

I visited the Aberdeen Art Gallery today. There is a variety of art on display from the traditional to the modern. I liked the piece "There Will Be No Miracles Here" by Nathan Coley – born Glasgow 1967

In this piece Coley addresses the ongoing conflict betweeen religious and state authorities, the conflicting systems of personal, social, religious and political belief through which we structure our lives.

One of their exhibitions was The new Pre-Raphaelites by Sunil Gupta, which was very moving.

There was also an exhibition by the Aberdeen Artists Society. There was a wide range of styles and media but some amazing quality.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Off to Aberdeen today. It took longer to get across London to Heathrow than it did to fly from Heathrow to Aberdeen. The flight even got in 15 minutes early.

Terminal 5 was really easy to negotiate & security check in was really fast, only 5 minutes compared with over half an hour last time I flew from Stansted.

I'm sure I must be able to make a link for a sermon with flying and Ascension Day.
Hope to visit the Art gallery tomorrow and do some sightseeing in town, its ages since I've been in Aberdeen - if all else fails and the weather turns bad I'll just have to go shopping instead.

wildlife photography

Richard and I went to a talk and presentation on wildlife photography tonight. It was organised by Exodus the company we travelled to Peru with last summer. It was an inspiring evening with lots of stunning photos and also some suggestions as to what makes a good wildlife photo. If only money were no object, lenses can be horrific prices. The advantage of taking pictures of objects is they don't move as fast as cheetahs and you don't need such long lenses.
My photo doesn't relate to wildlife but I didn't see any in central London!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

No elephants

Please leave your elephant outside the pub.


Another RS Thomas poem



I have come to the borders

of the understanding. Instruct

me, God, whether to press

onward or to draw back.


To say I am a child

is a pretence at humility

that is unworthy of me.

Rather am I at one with those


minds, all of whose instruments

are beside the point of

their sharpness. I need a technique

other than that of physics


for registering the ubiquity

of your presence. A myriad prayers

are addressed to you in a thousand

languages and you decode


them all. Liberty for you

is freedom from our too human

senses, yet we die

when they nod. Call your horizons


in. Suffer the domestication

for a moment of the ferocities

you inhabit, a garden for us to refine

our ignorance in under the boughs of love.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A trip to Ikea

Looking Glass - RS Thomas

There is a game I play
with a mirror, approaching
it when I am not there,
as though to take by surprise

the self that is my familiar. It
is in vain. Like one eternally
in ambush, fast or slow
as I may raise my head, it raises

its own, catching me in the act,
disarming me by acquaintance,
looking full into my face as often
as I try to look at it aska

Monday, 10 May 2010


I've well and truly given up on the idea of one photo a day...

A fox sunning itself outside my study window this morning.

There is lots of building work taking place at Gants Hill

Not ideal if you feel indecisive!
A self portrait

By contrast to all the noise at Gants Hill, Valentines Park was very peaceful.
I don't know why I can't get the spacing between lines right - it looks ok when I type it but goes to pot when I post...

Sunday, 9 May 2010


I went out for a curry in Manor Park with friends last night. We first met each other when we were taking our children to toddlers group. Some 20 years later we still meet up regulalry, even if we don't all make every get-together. Over the years I have really valued this friendship group. There are times when it's really great just to be with people whom you can be yourself, not needing to be on your best behaviour!

We've been through lots of experiences together - births, deaths & marriage. It's good to have friends whom you can be with without feeling you have to talk and explain things if you don't feel like it but equally who you can tell everything and know that you'll just be accepted and not judged.

These tangled laces made me think of friendship; how our lives are intertwined, yet still separate. At times friendships become very close and at other points we seem to move slightly apart - I saw this in the laces; the togetherness and the separateness.

We came across this cone whe we were walking back for coffee. The pavement had recently been relaid and when the tarmac was put down the cone wasn't moved so is now fixed in the middle of the pavement. It's a bit dark but it was late. Perhaps those who lay the tarmac aren't allowed to move cones, that's someone else's job.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Raphael Park

A selection of pictures, rather than words...

Fishing rods in Raphael's Park.


Coot family

A face only a mother could love - baby coot

Stepping out in faith


Friday, 7 May 2010

Things ain't what they seem

This might look like a picture of a tree against the night sky but it's actually a reflection of a tree in the bonnet of Richard's car. How often appearances are deceptive, we see something and make all sorts of assumptions about what we think. If only we spent a bit longer looking more carefully we might hope to get closer to the truth.
I spent part of the afternoon chatting about and reflecting on the use of photos I've been taking so far. It was really useful (Thanks Jonathan!) and something I need to continue with. We talked about whether I had an aim with the photos but I think that rather than being too directive I probably need to be fairly open about where I am going with them and where they'll take me. I was reminded of my thoughts of pilgrimage and how the journey is an important part of getting to the destination.