Category Archives: Holidays


I mentioned yesterday that we went up to Northumberland in September.

Resorting to google maps to find where it is, I discover it is Beadnell Bay. There were a group of people kite-surfing along the bay – looked most impressive.

It proved to be a good place to continue Rusk’s education into the finer points of sand-castle building. Living in the North of England, he has learned that a good, thick, waterproof coat and wellies are the most appropriate things to wear to the beach. We went back a couple of days later, but I misjudged the tides and we had about 12 square feet of sand to play on. The first castles we built were washed away a few minutes later – Rusk got quite cross about this, but it is an important lesson to learn. He got over it.

Greenbelt musings

This year, my Greenbelt was mostly about the people. My weekend centred on meeting up with lots of different people from across the country. Hot beverages were drunk, cake was eaten and the world was set to rights for another year. I also took some time out to go and see a few items from the programme – seemed only polite since the organisers work so hard to make it interesting.

I discovered Jude Simpson and spent the rest of the weekend trying (unsuccessfully) to get the Mango song out of my head. Possibly the most bizarre 90 minutes of the weekend were spent watching Zic Zazou – a troupe of french engineers making music from everything. Apart from being a little repetitive, it was amazing. I’m sure there will be some clips on YouTube. At one point one of them drilled some holes in a metal pipe, then picked it up and played it like a flute!

John Bell was there, of course, leading the Big Sing and doing some talks. Turns out he isn’t a big fan of the internet, Facebook, mobile phones or television – he pointed out a lot of the bad effects they have on people who become dependent on them, but was kind enough to suggest that we should use our own judgement about whether it is a problem for us. Francis Spufford was interesting, on the subject of British people doing Antarctic exploration (Scott etc.). My sister went to his other talk, on his book “The Child that books built” – turns out he grew up in the house 3 doors down from my childhood home, but moved out the year before I was born. One talk I was not planning to see, but went along to with some college friends, was a talk by Padraig O’Tuama about hell, particularly the effect on children of teaching them about hell. Very interesting. I did go to some other talks, but I forget which ones. My list of ‘to be downloaded later’ talks is quite long.

Beer and Hymns was a highlight, but we didn’t get anywhere near the frontĀ  of the queue for the beer tent, so we went to And Hymns instead. We (my sister and I) had Pie and Mash and Hymns – almost as good, but not as easy to wave in time to the choruses. A useful reminder was given to those wanting to start Beer and Hymns sessions in their home towns: Beer and Hymns is not just about introducing beer to people who like hymns, but about introducing hymns to people who like beer.

The thing that made me smile most over the weekend were two people dressed as angels, complete with wings and a Hallelujah soundtrack, on Segues gliding up and down outside the Tiny Tea Tent. Just watching the reactions of people was lovely.

Segue Angel

There was quite a significant knitting component to Greenbelt. I went along to one of the Greenbelt Angel knitting circle sessions. There was also a learn to knit session that I helped with where we all knitted beards or moustaches (inspired by Life of Brian) – I understand that there will be pictures somewhere.

One of the things I realised at Greenbelt is that I have a good memory for faces (and sometimes the names that go with them). I recognised a lot of people over the weekend who showed no sign whatsoever of knowing who I was. There were people from churches I was on placement at several years ago, people I sat in lectures with at college. There were random people (like some of your good selves) from the internet. I think there was someone I went to school with half my lifetime ago (she was coming out of a loo cubicle as I was going in and I didn’t have the presence of mind to greet her – I was wearing a hat, so she probably didn’t notice me). There was one woman who looked really familiar and I saw her a few times before I figured it out: Clare Short. Good thing I didn’t go over to find out how I knew her. Then as I was sheltering from the rain in the Church Times tent (marvellous cartoons by the way) I saw another real famous person…

Yes, it is Tom Hollander from Rev. My only camera was the one in my phone, so it is a little bit blurry. I liked how he had two minders, presumably to protect him from potential hordes of angry/over-exuberant clerical types.

All this, of course, now fades into the distance as I am back at work. My two essays were not completed before I went away in July, so I had a frantic couple of days typing – all done now. I also came home to find Mr F addicted to the Definitely Last Ever mini-series of Big Brother. Very disappointing, but a horribly easy thing to happen.

In other news… A knitting competition started yesterday that I am taking part in. It is a race to knit 6 pairs of socks, but before each pattern is released you have to solve some puzzles. Very good fun. I am in a lovely team for the puzzle solving, but the knitting is all individual. I don’t expect to progress much beyond round 2. I really would like to finish round 1 – I have until 17th September or until 90% of the participants have completed it.


  1. My Greenbelt ticket has arrived!
  2. I’m going to Taize in a couple of weeks
  3. By which time I will have written 6000 words on essays for the MA module I am doing as part of my work training
  4. The second sock is past the heel and only the leg left to do – 55 rounds and counting
  5. Deanery chapter is this afternoon
  6. I can wander around the village chatting to people and it is part of work
  7. I’m preaching on Mary and Martha this Sunday (a triple bill – hopefully by the third time I’ll have got it nailed!)

Got to go. My lift will be here soon.

Post-ordination thoughts

First time at my desk since the ordination. Thank you all very much for your good wishes and prayers. It was a lovely day and we’ve had a bit of a holiday in the south since then.

Legoland in half-term on a very hot day = quite an ordeal, but worth it for Rusk’s face when he met Lego Bob the Builder (bigger than he is).

Our tour of the M25 took in visits to some very lovely people, including a good friend’s wedding. Fantastic day all round. Rusk spent his time charming everyone, even playing football with the mother of the bride for half an hour. The next group of people we saw had a lovely garden, complete with climbing frame and slide. Mr F’s face when he saw Rusk had climbed to the top of the climbing frame by himself was a picture.

We were also introduced to the game of Bananagrams. Anyone else play? There is a Facebook app, but it doesn’t do the game justice. Marvellous fun.

Sunday morning was my first normal Sunday since the priesting. The vicar took the opportunity to have the day off so I was left to my own devices, ably assisted by the usual team. I was totally astounded when a lovely couple who had been very unsure about women priests came up to the rail and received communion. They have been very kind to me and we’ve had some good discussions about it over the year, but I really wasn’t expecting it. So lovely. Still brings tears to the eyes to think about it.

In other news: inauspicious, abnegate, writerly, efficacious, honorific, ostentation, sedulous, fallible, vinification, desuetude, pilose, ideate, arriviste, gimcrack, muliebrity and revile. Quite a collection of words to take in from my word a day calendar since I last looked at it.

A bit of a break

We were hoping to get away for a few days over half term to spend time with my sister, who teaches and so is limited to school holidays. Ash Wednesday falling in half term meant an even shorter break than planned, but still lovely. We borrowed a cottage from friends and spent a couple of days in the Lake District.

We are now back. Rusk has actually gone to sleep without fuss. Mr F is catching up on stuff we’ve recorded and I am relaxing with Chopin on the headphones while I finish off my sermon for tomorrow. This particular congregation asked for something more interactive. We’ll see whether they still want it after tomorrow! I’m looking forward to finding out how Lent was marked 80 plus years ago in this area.

This is the first time I’ve deliberately used someone else’s sermon as a starting point for mine. Our Lent course includes an Ash Wednesday sermon in the front as an introduction, with the suggestion that you make it your own by adapting it. Useful exercise, although I’m not sure whether the person who wrote the original would recognise what I’ve come up with. The vicar preached on something else on Wednesday so I’ve grabbed this for tomorrow instead. Editing is easier than starting from scratch, particularly when there is no pressure to keep it recogniseable. There are bits from the Lent book I’m reading in there as well – the idea that Lent is not something you do alone, that the fast (whatever form it takes) is more meaningful when it is the whole community doing it. If this Lent course is part of the fast for our parishes, then it will work better if more people are doing it. Here’s hoping.


I often feel some pressure to make the most of holiday time by doing interesting stuff. It is better, however, if I resist this pressure and instead concentrate on doing nothing much. This has a far more beneficial effect in the long run.

Today is a pleasing mix of the two. I have had a lazy morning while sundry relatives and friends look after Rusk. I am sitting in my sister’s very comfy swivel chair (a family heirloom – used to be my Grandfather’s chair), laptop on lap, half-read Colin Dexter novel to hand, Test Match Special on in the background. Lovely. Later today I will go and be the guard on a steam train – if that isn’t ‘doing stuff’ I don’t know what is. Haven’t done any guarding for about 3 and a half years so it will be interesting to see how much I remember. I’m being reassessed on Monday so I really will find out how much I have forgotten!

It has occurred to me that I may be turning into a cliche* – detective novels, cricket and steam railways have long been part of the stereotypical view of the average English vicar. I maintain, however, that these have been part of my life for longer than I have been even thinking about ordination, so there!

*Can’t for the life of me find the accent to make that correct – sorry

Carry on camping

We took Rusk camping at the weekend. Boy was that an experience! It never ceases to amaze me how he can increase his stamina according to whether there are interesting things going on. While he would normally have 2 naps a day and sleep from 7 to 7, he managed to get by with the odd 20 minutes of nap and stay awake while we went to a restaurant until 9pm. He entertained everyone at the table by playing peekaboo with his napkin. I was less impressed when a pigeon woke him up at 5.15am the next day, particularly since I was in the same tent as him and I had to wake up too. At least a tent is a fairly safe environment where he can play without needing too much attention from a very bleary-eyed parent.

We found a very, very good visitor centre and gift shop in Dalby Forest, along with a 2.5 mile walk that was suitable for pushchairs, although possibly better for pushchairs with slightly bigger wheels than ours. It was tough pushing at times. We rewarded ourselves with a cream tea afterwards. Rusk loves scones – probably a good thing for a vicarage child – and will keep quiet for quite a while if given chunks of scone every few minutes.

So, my top camping tips for camping with a nearly-toddler:

  • Make sure the child can actually toddle. Crawlers get very muddy knees, or have to be carried much of the time.
  • Have a small tent ready to use as playpen while putting the larger ones up
  • Take many other adults with you to play with the toddler
  • Either camp far away from other people or accept that the toddler will disturb a large proportion of the campsite
  • ALL camping equipment counts as toys, from the guy ropes to the air bed pump. Don’t bother taking many actual toys
  • Gin and tonic (for you, not the toddler)

Post Bluebelt Greens

What a wonderful weekend. My wellies had several trips out and now look genuinely muddy. My coat/waterproof thing to sit on is also showing signs of being ill used and I am so thankful that Dad left his brolly behind when he visited last week. Several toddlers commented loudly, “Mummy/Daddy why is that lady using an umbrella as a walking stick?” I rarely stuck around to hear the answers, but it was probably because I was walking up the hill behind the grandstand and not coping well with it, my back having objected to sleeping on a lilo and sitting on hard floors with no support.

Anyway, I am now home, clean and using cutlery again. I did have to think about which hand uses which implement, but not for too long.

It was lovely to meet so many people on Sunday and my husband is very grateful to you for not abducting me. He was rather worried when I said I was going to meet some people I knew from t’internet.

More tomorrow – I am off to have some cake and custard.

PS I have just got the new broadband connection working with Linux! Hurrah, I am surfing ethically again.

Shiny new wellies

I feel like a small child again: I have new wellies! They are shiny and navy blue, with bright red soles and buckles, rather retro looking. I wanted the tweed print ones, but there were none in my size. On balance, I think that is a good thing.

I had forgotten that feeling of pride in the shiny new boots and the contradictory feelings about the weather. I would love it to be warm and sunny in Cheltenham this weekend, but a little, tiny part of me wants there to be puddles to stamp about in.

Incidentally, we drove past Cheltenham yesterday and to the north there was a HUGE band of rain. If anyone has yet to pack, bring clothes for muddy days.

On a related matter, I did indeed take clothes to be washed at my sister’s house yesterday and made a welcome discovery: I had not thrown away my Greenbelt spending money, merely stuffed it into a trouser pocket on moving day. Hurrah, I will be able to patronise the bookshop after all. Things had been looking rather grim there for a while.

So, I am off to Greenbelt tomorrow. Back on Tuesday. Have a good weekend, or maybe I will see you there.

This week I have been mostly…

1) Going on rollercoasters
Ow, ow, ow, ow. My muscles all hurt and I have bruises on the sides of my knees. I think I may be getting too old for rollercoasters. However, there is nothing quite like the sheer terror of being swung upside down many times. My screaming muscles are definitely well exercised.

2) Camping
A successful weekend all round. Lots of cake and alcohol, a barbecue, a trip to the beach, frisbee-ing and kite flying. The pound and a postcard challenge went down well: Each person in the group picked a name out of a hat and then had to buy an item of tourist tat costing no more than a pound, plus an appropriate postcard. The gifts were exchanged anonymously and we had a grand unveiling on the Sunday morning where we all had to guess who had been our benefactor. I received a postcard of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and a keyring with a steam train on. My sister had no trouble guessing that I had bought her a fridge magnet and an educational Captain Cook postcard. She recognised my handwriting, even in block capitals.

A welcome side-effect of the pound and a postcard game was that we all spent so much time trying to find that perfect item, that none of us spent any serious money on frivolous things, although there were second-hand book shops so I picked up a few items I had been strong enough not to buy new.

3) Remonstrating with removal companies
Hopefully, by the end of today, we will have picked the company with the lowest price. I spent some time on the phone on Friday morning chasing them up. One of the firms I filled in an exam paper for then said they were fully booked on that day so I had to find another one. Why they could not have said this 2 weeks ago when I first approached them I do not know.

4) Not filling in forms for college – I dozed and read books yesterday evening instead

5) Not packing, due to not having boxes yet – see item 3