Sunday, 26 June 2016

Stones Of Hope

Carol asked about the Hope Stones [thanks for the enquiry!]. This was an idea from Chris Duffett, the Baptist Evangelist, who does lots of 'Saints on the Street' work in the community, sharing the good news of God's love.
These are just ordinary cobbles bought from the Garden Centre. On the underside of each is I have written a word or phrase using an indelible Sharpie Marker pen] Below is part of a post I wrote three years ago after our Kirby Muxloe Village Fun Day. It was the first time I had used the stones, and was blown away by people's reactions...

I cannot begin to tell you what amazing responses we had to our ‘stones’ table. So many people saying ‘this is just the right message for me’ – people taking a stone and then coming back later bring a friend or partner ‘Go on, you take one too’
  • The lady who looked up with tears in her eyes and said “You’ve no idea how much I needed to read this today [You are special]
  • Two people who are facing cancer in their families, one read Hope, the other One day at a Time
  • The teacher who said her new term had thrown up all sorts of challenges Wait and See
  • The student who was anxious about his forthcoming exams read Do Not Be Afraid – and said ‘That’s exactly right!’
  • ‘This is the message for me’ said one person reading ‘Have faith’ and explained they were going through a difficult divorce.

In fact almost everyone who took a stone remarked on how appropriate it was. It was incredibly moving, and humbling, as they shared their circumstances with us – and we were able to offer encouragement, comfort and prayer.

May the stones they took away continue to give comfort and strength. Perhaps in view of the events this week, and the anxious people around me, I should set up another table somewhere soon...

A Recommitment to the Common Good

After the EU Referendum: a prayer from the Joint Public Issues Team

God of every nation and people,
At this historic moment we pray for all who are affected by the decision that we have made.

Whatever differences this has revealed within our own society,
    may they not eclipse what we have in common.

Where the narratives of political debate have caused harm and division
    help us to reclaim the true values of our shared humanity.

Where exaggeration and distortion have generated suspicion and fear
    may truth and honesty restore hope and goodness.

We pray for all the nations of Europe
    that you will help us to find ways of living and working together
    to pursue the mercy and justice that you require.

We recommit ourselves – together – to the values of your eternal Kingdom
    and pray that along with all people
    we might help your world become more as you intended.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

We Had A Field Day!

We certainly had fun last Saturday - the weather was good - a bit breezy and overcast at times - but the crowds turned out to enjoy the fun.
We got there early and put up the Church tents. Those multisection gazebos can be a challenge to erect - you need to lay out the poles very carefully, and then wait whilst your Anglican Brethren do a special Dorset Pole Dance round them!
In our tents we had a prayer area, Hope-stones, children's activities [colouring, cake decorating, hair-braiding] refreshments- and next door, my little story tent. That was really rewarding - best bits for me were...
  • a Mum asking 'where in the bible can we find that story when we get home
  • a group of a dozen children who left after their story- then all turned and rushed straight back in, asking if they could have another one immediately, please?
  • one of my little friends from church, who came to me on Sunday before the service and asked for the end of the story, as she'd had to leave halfway through as she was in a display

I loved this Organ - with the perforated cardboard sheets that played the various tunes stored at the back 

There were many fun characters present - Stormtrooper, Town Crier, Dalek, etc

For High Flyers- details of the abseil [please sponsor me - click link on the sidebar!] and a raptor display - and for Big Eaters, lots of food outlets - many in cool vehicles

It was a very different feel to our Village Fun Day back in Kirby Muxloe. Some good ideas to learn from this new setting though. [but Ferndown definitely needs a better Sound System, it was inaudible even when you were within sight of the sound tent]
Thank you to all friends from both churches who turned out to staff the Churches Area. 

This Saturday - a Connexion lunchtime BBQ, then a Church Carwash and Cream Tea to raise funds for the work of Hope Now in Ukraine. As you can see from the picture above, all this fabulous Ferndown food is playing havoc with my waistline!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Fifty Shades of Grey Again

Last year I mentioned using a Dr Beckmann whitener to improve the appearance of my white bath towels which were a dismal fifty shades of grey.
I'd had a voucher for a Dr B products and bought three items from the company.
Only in the past week have I got round to using the other two.
But I am so pleased with the results I decided it was worth blogging about them.
I haven't been paid for this [I don't do that sort of thing] but having found something good, I like to pass the tip on.
The second item I used was the box of Dry Cleaning Sheets.
These are sheets you put in the tumble dryer with items you would normally take to be dry cleaned. You open the sachet and use the damp cloth to rub any particularly stained parts. Then you put the garment [inside out] into the tumble dryer ON LOW SETTING for 20 minutes. Then take it out and hang it up.
Bob's green jacket had a particularly dirty patch along the inside of the neck at the back and also the cuff areas. So I rubbed these parts with the cloth then tumbled the jacket. Then I used a second sheet to do my grubby raincoat and my smart MoB dress.
They all came out much fresher looking [and smelling good too] The manufacturers claim each sheet will do up to 4 garments so that is much cheaper than a trip to the cleaners.

My final Dr B item was the Stain Devils Survival Kit. This is a pack of three stain removers- designed for various stains - ink, blood, grass, coffee,wine, curry, oil, suncream... Bob was changing the cartridge on his computer printer and something went wrong and he got red ink all over his light coloured trousers.

He promptly whipped them off and put them in the basin in the bathroom [he is well trained!] and I fetched the pack from the kitchen. I applied the correct liquid, left it for a few minutes and rinsed it off. Then did it again [it was a horrendous stain] and finally put the trousers in the washing machine.  I wish I had taken some 'before' pictures. The red marks on his leg looked like he had been in a sword fight. But afterwards ...we were both amazed to see the stain had completely gone. Bob said he was fully expecting me to say the trousers were beyond recovery. 
These products are not especially cheap - but if you shop around you can often find them on offer somewhere - or promo codes on the net. And to have white towels, fresh and clean clothes and stains removed efficiently and easily, these are all well worth the money imho.
Now if only Dr B would make a sachet that could ensure items come out of the washing machine totally creasefree and5 without needing to be ironed...
Update-just cycled  into town and found all Dr B stuff on offer  in Wilkinson, much half price. That's good news on a grey day! 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Prayer For Our Nation*

Dear God,
Thank you, Lord, for your goodness to our nation. 
We are comforted by the knowledge that You alone are our Saviour and Lord, and the ultimate Master of life. 
As we face these uncertain times in our nation, we ask you, Lord, to dwell among us. 
Send Your spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. 
Give them, and us, the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. 
We trust our nation to Your loving care, Lord. 
Give us your light and your truth to guide us in our ways so that we may seek Your will in our lives and impact the world around us for Your Kingdom. 

In Jesus' Name we pray - Amen

*with thanks to the Dayspring website

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Looking Through Rose Coloured Spectacles

On Tuesday we went to Christchurch to sort out our new glasses - I have been slightly more daring in my choice of frames this time. Looking at the map as we were about to come home, I suddenly said "Can we drive back via Southbourne?" I explained to Bob that about 55 years ago, before my brother was born, we had a couple of holidays there. We stayed in a Guest House run by two very sweet ladies, near the sea front and the Cliff Lift. "And we would go to Fisherman's Walk, which was lovely."
Poor Bob had to listen to my reminiscences [punctuated by 'no, turn left here, now!'] about the man from the bank, who came at lunchtime in his suit and bowler hat, carrying brolly and briefcase. He would sit on a seat and get out his sandwiches, and the squirrels [red ones] would gather round and run up and down the handle of the umbrella, placed against the bench, and nibble at bits of sandwich. I used to love sirtting on the bench and watching their antucs.
Bob found a parking place and we got out and walked through Fisherman's Walk - which is still there. About 1000 years ago, men from Holdenhurst, a few miles inland, would walk this path down to the sea, to go out fishing - and smuggling. This continued for centuries- but 100 years ago, the final part of the route became this little park. Ten years ago, a group "Friends Of Fisherman's Walk" got together to ensure this lovely area full of wildlife and trees, would be preserved for future generations.
As you enter, there are informative signs, and birds [cormorants?] atop the pillars
There are lovely wooden sculptures, with the native plants and creatures carved on them.
No squirrels and bankers to entertain us this year - but just a couple of guys who had slung a tightrope between two trees. They were very good.
And we saw a three year old with a very fancy remote controlled child-sized model BMW car.
The family were enjoying steering it along the paths - but he was refusing point blank to climb into the vehicle!
There was a pond, with a fountain and water lilies - and then you crossed the road to the cliff top.  
We looked down at the blue waters and golden sands [somewhere in 1961, I lost my favourite bucket whilst playing on the beach!] We decided not to go down in the Cliff Lift.
Bob took my photograph as I peered through the fat-lady-in-a-bikini cutout. That wasn't there in my childhood - and even if it had been, my Mum would never have countenanced such vulgarity!!
We did used to play crazy golf [that's still there] but I couldn't see The Shell House. When I got home, I researched it, and found that sadly it was demolished 15 years ago due to excessive vandalism.
As Bob pointed out, it is possibly a little unreasonable of me to expect things to remain unchanged over the course of half a century! I must stop looking through rose coloured spectacles

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Happy Birthday, Biff And Chips

It is 30 years this week since Roderick Hunt first produced his Oxford Reading Tree Series, to help children learn to read! Liz was already reading by then, and I don't think Steph's school had them in her early years there. But I encountered the Robinson Family often in the various schools where i worked on supply. 
The two main characters were Biff and Chips - the nicknames of the Robinson twins, aka Barbara and David. I am not sure why Hunt chose Barbara - it was hardly a popular name even in the 1980s - less than 1 in 2000 girls. No wonder she opted for a nickname.
 The family also included Mum and Dad, Floppy the dog, and younger brother Kipper [who couldn't pronounce Christopher]
They were a very 1980's Middle Class family! Personally I never really took to them - I am not sure any of the women ever wore skirts. Later on the family included Gran, who was eccentric but good fun, friends Wilf and Wilma, and then Anneena and Sadim. 
But it is a reasonably good reading scheme, and many children like the adventures, so want to read the books. 
There is a plethora of supportive materials to go with the basic story books, and I know many schools are still using this stuff 30 years on.
There is a little confusion though, because many schools used the acronymns WALT, WILF and WILMA as their learning targets [We Are Learning To..., What I'm Looking For..., and What I'm Learning More About...] You can find out about them here
It is interesting to see that in the past 30 years B&C have not really changed that much. Contrast them with the Ladybird "Janet and John" reading scheme. which ran from the 50s to the 70s and desperately tried to modernise itself [and failed!]

And does anyone remember the Billy Blue Hat Series? [I really didn't get on with them!]
Whatever scheme you choose, I am still convinced that the most important thing is regular access to books, with adults and older children reading to the younger ones and helping them until they can read for themselves. 

My experience on Saturday at the Fete On The Field was that most children love storytelling - and enjoy trying out new words. Kindles and Tablets and Laptops and DVDs are useful - but to hold a book and turn the pages and enjoy the words and pictures is a great experience for boys and girls. 
So I am very grateful to Roderick Hunt, and Roger Hargreaves [Mr Men] and Mick Inkpen [Kipper- the dog] Nick Butterworth [Percy Park-keeper] Julia Donaldson [Gruffalo] etc etc etc who have done so much to help really young children love books and reading. 

Do you [or your children or grandchildren] have a favourite Early Years author, or book series?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Merci Mille Fois!

Isn't it lovely when people remember something you mentioned months ago and then act on it? It was super to receive a copy of Marie Claire Idées yesterday, from someone who'd been in France and knew that I get so much enjoyment from this craft magazine.

I decided a proper thank-you was in order, so spent the afternoon making chocolates, and a box to present them in. I didn't particularly want to watch the Grand Prix, so it kept me busy.

I think that now I have got the hang of these silicone moulds I ought to think about another set. Not everybody likes little Lego Men after all!