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Pat and Paul's Diary 2008

It's a very sad thing but it seems as though we have spent much of the year looking for something to do and finding nothing! It was lovely returning to the Parish: for 14 weeks every Sunday after church we had a reunion with people we had known nearly 15 years ago. There was a lot going on and it is all very friendly and gentle but we didn't get caught up into anything.

One reason may have been that we wanted something where we could contribute:outside of the parish routine would be fine. I think we are not very good at joining things and that is a drawback - if we joined we might find something to do!

In January Paul took off to see the Archdeacon in an attempt to get some leverage in promoting our book. He read it and sent it to the Diocesan Missioner. He read it and sent it to someone else. He/She read it and sent it to the Diocesan Director of Communications who called to discuss what we could do. All of them claimed to have been greatly enthused and yet it was December before the DDC arrived and, so far, nothing has happened - apart from one Deanery appointment for January 2009.

Some readers may have known Fred and Joy Crooks. We had last seen Joy, purely be accident, at the Christian Resources Exhibition three years back. At the end of January we joined others to give thanks for her life. The mark that some people make is amazing. If only we could shine for the Lord as they did.

One thing we have enjoyed is being able to entertain many of our old friends to Sunday lunch. There are still a lot to catch up with and others to visit. Micky Crane came to see us one day which was a great pleasure.

In March we had an invite to the RAC Club for a silver jubilee celebration for CARE (Christian Action Research and Education).CARE was born out of the Nationwide Festival of Light which started in 1971, for those with a good memory. In 1983 NFOL name was changed to CARE and we probably started supporting it then - so it's a real favourite of ours. The web site is Glenys joined us for a couple of days at the end of the month, with Lottie who was very well behaved!


Joy came for a few days in April. We visited Brian and took lunch together somewhere. It would have been better if we actually had taken lunch as it was one of those restaurants or one of those days when either everything desireable on the menu is off or when the pub staff suffer severe memory loss. Nevertheless it was a good day and enjoyed by all.

Later in April we returned to Butlins for the first time in over 37 years, the last time being for a birthday outing for Adrian. No 'Happy Campers' routine - this was for Spring Harvest, our first time. We've been going to conferences for over 50 years - although not every year - and this was probably the first one that might have been labelled 'evangelical' although I don't think it carries a description of any sort. Taste it and see, as with most things. We went with a group arranged by one of the dynamic young people at church. The conference was very well organised and the accommodation sort of reasonable. There were many alternatives and so one was not stuck with any particular presentation although not so much choice for the main evening item which took place in the big top. Whether is was hectoring or ranting or raving is up to anyone to say but there was certainly shouting which, in our opinion, is quite unneccessary and which was a new and not too pleasant experience for us. The music also left a lot to be desired. We seem to have been too well treated over the years! We must return to give thanks.

For some time there had been a rumbling in the garage. It was our yellow van that wanted to be off again. And so on 13 May we travelled to Redcar spending a couple of days in Ely on the way. Valerie and Ruth welcomed us to Recar which must be a far cry from the Brazilian jungle where they spent most of their working lives translating the scriptures into Xavante. Whether the language is a great deal different from that spoken in Redcar was not so easy for us to judge. We were made to feel at home in their church which meets in a local school - wonderful to be free of the financial burdens of a church building.

From Redcar we went to Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales. A week there and then onto Braithwaite in the Lake District. Simon joined us for three days which enabled the men to walk up both Helvellyn and the Haystacks. Another completed week and off to Blore Hall in the Peak District. A week there and then back to Blockley from 11th to 14th June when we joined Glenys at Oddington for her 70th birthday bash. Pictures here for the party and here for our Northern Progress.

Come July we had another big birthday to arrange. Pat's 70th. Should we have a bash in Barbados or chill out in Canada, should we rent the Ritz or celebrate at a concert? In the end we had a simple BBQ in our own back garden. Joy and Brian both came, which was very good.

On 20th July we returned to Westminster Abbey for our week's chaplaincy. It's peculiar to be able to Preside at the Eucharist there whereas Paul is not invited to minister at all in our own parish. The Chaplain's flat in the cloister has been remodelled to good effect. The week on duty is always rewarding with a few very serious pastoral moments. The evenings are normally free. Joy joined us on Monday. We went to see Never Forget but were quite happy to forget by the time of the interval and left early which had the added benefit of Joy getting home in good time. On Wednesday Walter and Tessa joined us: we went to see Blood Brothers which we thought was a very good production. We had never heard of it so were surprised to see the posters which claimed it was in its 20th year - or perhaps it was even longer. Maybe all those had not been in the West End. On the Friday we were joined by David and Joan and strolled around Covent Garden and that general area before settling on an Italian Restaurant which provided us with good time, space and food. (Cannot lay my hands on a picture of Joan)

We returned home Saturday afternoon which allowed Pat a little time for domestic chores before we flew out to Geneva on Tuesday morning for two week's chaplaincy in Interlaken. There is a myth about trains on the continent, that they are always on time. Not ours. The train from Geneva was late and we missed the connection to Interlaken from Spitz or wherever. There was some poor weather in England but Switzerland was very hot. We even had to ask for a different table at breakfast as the sun coming through the window at 8am was more than we could stand/sit/stomache. Apart from out duties we got around quite a bit. We went to Lucern to check up our previous chaplaincy haunts and to Montreaux. Two hours journey travel on the Golden Pass train and not a single cow to be seen the whole way there and the whole way back. Do they import their milk or factory farm their cows? More locally we went to Wengen and both Kleine and Grosser Scheidegg, Thun and Kandersteg as well as time on both of the lakes that Interlaken is inter. With a four course dinner every night at the small family hotel not one item was repeated during our stay. On one of our two Sundays we had record numbers at church and also on the other. One more folk than any other week and the other fewer folk than any other week of the season. We spent a fair amount of time at the hospital. Among other guests there was a girl who had fallen off the Monch and broken her back and a chap who had hit rock when he was base jumping and had broken his femur in a couple of places and shattered his knee. Neither of them could wait to get back to their chosen madness - but they had to on this occasion. It was good to be able to talk and pray with all those who were in a place not of their first choosing - we trust is was rewarding for them as well as for us

On 1st September we were off to Slovenia for the wedding of Melanie and Phill. Simon had gone the previous Saturday. He had hired a car and collected us from Llubliana. We had booked rooms for us three and for Zuzana and Timothy in the same hotel. The latter joined us the night before the wedding on Friday but we were able to do some exploring and some walking in the Julian Alps. Some wedding pictures can be found here.
Puff, puff, only two days at home and then we take off for Tenerife. As we say it's a puff, puff, tough, tough life all this travelling around and we probably wouldn't do it if someone gave us a proper job. As normal these days (years) we take a week from the middle of our time in Tenerife and go to the little island next door, La Gomera. Apart from one trip we stayed in the complex all week looking at the stars at night and sitting in the gardens most of the day. Gardens? see here. This year we met Barbara Clayton who moved to the Canaries 48 years ago as a WEC missionary. She arrived with a colleague in La Gomera after 3 years. She still leads the little Protestent church in San Sebastian. She played the key board for us at the service we run which is when we discovered that she knew no hymns that were not in the book when she left UK. She has a good ear and we spent several hours playing through some of the 'modern' favourites so, hopefully, her repertoire will have increased. In the evening we attended her church prayer and bible study - in Spanish, of course.

We used to say that because when the children left home they stayed local - seemingly most unusual these days - we had to move. Fourteen years seven months later we return and they are still all here. But half way through our first year back Adie tells us they intend to move to Holland. They had difficulty selling up because of the prevailing economic climate but eventually departed these shores on 1st November. (Tears)

And so we move towards Christmas. Although this is the fourth retired Christmas each of the others have been masked for some reason and Paul is now wondering once again why he is not rushing enthusiastically from place to place leading carol services, Christingles, Crib services, school services, midnight communion plus all the other wonderful times that Ministry affords. We thank God for all of them and must now learn in a different way to enter into the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a of great rejoicing at which we remember that the Lord of Creation divested himself of his eternal glory so that he could be clothed by Mary and cuddled into childhood, experiencing our hurts and pains, disappointments and joys, friendships and griefs: all in preparation for the life's work he so gloriously achieved for the salvation of us all. Praise be.

And, to conclude, a phrase, an action, a habit which we have found so useful of late. "Give me love, give me grace - and a smile on my face." We say it (to ourselves) in the car, in the supermarket, in church, in the street, at home.

Bless you all.


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