Saturday, 25 October 2014

This Is A Stick-Up!

P1000172I’ve been doing lots of craft and sewing jobs this week, and at one point I needed to glue something. Bob immediately got out one of his hot glue guns and did the deed for me.

Then he decided he needed a proper stand – the guns drip molten glue when in use, and the little plastic stands that come with them are pretty flimsy.

P1000173He cut two pieces from a bit of scrap chipboard, and stuck them together [using a hot glue gun, of course]

The stand fits both guns, and will hold them safely and catch any drips of hot glue.P1000174

A quick, cheap and easy project – but one which will prove so useful  Well done, Bob.[why did you not think of this years ago?]

Is anyone else watching the new series of Big Bang Theory? On Thursday night, just as we settled down to enjoy BBT together, the phone rang

"Hello Mrs Almond, this is the University of Warwick Graduates Association. Is this a good time to talk?"
"No it isn't - the new series of Big Bang Theory has just started and I am married to a physicist. Sorry. Goodnight"

I hung up before she could respond. I am not usually that abrupt, but for once I was too tired to explain that I did not want to send money to my old Uni – and I did want to watch a programme I enjoy.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Face Values

Did you ever see Renee Zellwegger, In Bridget Jones’ Diary?

RZ bridget

The film was made in 2001, and chronicled the life of the eponymous ditsy blonde girl.

The book was written by Helen Fielding in 1996 – and the passage below is quoted in the film as BJ endures her ‘beauty regimen’

Being a woman is worse than being a farmer – there are so many areas to be cultivated and maintained: legs to be waxed, underarms shaved, eyebrows plucked, feet pumiced, skin exfoliated and moisturised, spots cleansed, roots dyed, eyelashes tinted, nails filed, cellulite massaged, stomach muscles exercised. The whole performance is so highly tuned that you only need to neglect it for a few days for the whole thing to go to seed. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if left to revert to nature – with a full beard and handlebar moustache on each shin, Denis Healey eyebrows, face a graveyard of dead skin cells, spots erupting, long curly fingernails like Struwwelpeter, flabby body flobbering around. Ugh, ugh. Is it any wonder girls have no confidence?

I suspect Ms Zellwegger may have overdone her maintenance of late – on the left, in autumn 2013 – and on the right, this month


I couldn’t see anything wrong with her original face- but it does seem that she’s had ‘work done’. I just find it incredibly sad that women spend fortunes on treatments and surgery in order to feel good about themselves. I realise that in the film industry ‘your face is your fortune’, and many female stars are concerned they will not be offered roles as they age – but nevertheless…

I don’t think that crowsfeet, grey hairs and arthritis have held back these British women very much in their acting careers



Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Phyllida Law continue to delight us with their performances, and revel in the wisdom of their years.

Finty Williams [Dench]and Emma Thompson [Law] seem to be following in their mother’s footsteps with a similarly sensible approach to age&stage.

I think that I am with the apostle Peter on this on – he writes in chapter 3 of his epistle

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red

logoThis exhibition at the Tower started on August 5th, and continues until November 11th. Princes Harry and William, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Queen, Prince Philip, and hundreds of others have been to see it. And last Saturday afternoon, Liz and I were able to go as well.yeoman warder

It was around 5pm and there were hundreds of people there.


We liked the way the stems were different lengths, which made the surface look like waves across the sea, and the way the flowers appear to flow out of the building down to the ground



The archer was there on the roof, ready to repel invaders


Liz insisted on taking a photo of me – she argued that there are very rarely pictures of me on the blog, just the places I visit and things I make. That’s because I am not given to taking ‘selfies’!


But here is proof that I was there, and did get to see this amazing installation. All the poppies have been sold already, and will raise an awful lot of money for some service charities. Read all about it here.  We both felt too tired, and Liz was full of cold, I had a sore throat, so we went home  early.

We did not stay for the Roll Call and Last Post at sunset. But I am glad I went. It was very moving – and although I had seen pictures, it was nothing like the impact of being there. Thanks Liz!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A “Heads Up” About Hats

age-ukJust a reminder that once again AgeUk and Innocent Smoothies are working together to raise awareness, and to raise funds for the elderly this autumn.

You still have time to knit a bobble hat or two for a drinks bottle. Hats must be sent in by November 14th. It took me just a few evenings whilst watching TV, to make a dozen woolly titfers. I used up some odds and ends of wool and a few pompoms from the stash.


You can find some patterns here – I always use the   simplest “Doddle” pattern because I find it is quickest. Knitting in stripes helps make the hats look more interesting and also makes row counting easier. I can knit and stitch up a couple of hats in under an hour [that’s one episode of Downton or Grantchester**!] 

Full details of where to send finished hats is here. For every hat-on-a-bottle, AgeUK gets 25p. The wool for these were tiny scrap balls – and none of it was in sufficient quantity to make anything else I would consider usable or wearable, and the postage was minimal. But that is £3 which might help towards providing a pensioner with a hot meal, or much-needed money advice, or an afternoon at an OAP social club, or transport to an appointment.

innocent hatsAnd if you buy the smoothies, you are helping too – and getting a pleasant drink and a useful egg cosy!

**I do think the 1950’s knitwear in Grantchester is excellent, don’t you?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Happy Birthday, Steph


Is it really thirty years since you were born? Can that tiny baby have really grown into a beautiful woman? And this coming year is full of special events for you – I am so proud of you for being fit and healthy enough to run in the London Marathon in the spring- so thrilled that in June you will marry your beloved Mark.

May the Lord bless you and take good care of you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord look on you with favour and give you his peace.

Wherever you are, what ever you are doing, I will always hold you in my heart.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Pretty Flamingo!

Next years Women’s World Day of Prayer has been planned by the women of the Bahamas, as regular readers will have gathered. A piece of artwork, based on the theme [Jesus’ words in John 13 “Do you know what I have done to you”] and featuring Bahamian images has been especially commissioned for the event. It’s called Blessed.


Can you see the feet of Jesus at the bottom? – the artist wanted to represent  the birds bowing in adoration, service and sacrifice. I was incredibly impressed when I visited Folkestone for their Preparation Day on Saturday – they had a 3-dimensional  representation of this painting which was created by one of the ladies there.


That was my 4th such day this autumn – I have two more to deliver before Christmas [Lewisham and Norwich] My Aygo is certainly clocking up the miles.

I was pretty exhausted when I got back to Liz and Jon Saturday night with a very sore throat too. I fell asleep during Dr Who – woke at 9.45pm, went promptly to bed, and slept right through till the morning. I never got back to Kirby in time for church – but rolled up at 11.45am for the after service coffee, and a slice of Gwen and Ken’s Ruby Wedding Cake.

I did go out with Liz late on Saturday afternoon, to the Tower. Photos of those amazing poppies will follow later!

Sunday, 19 October 2014


I am setting up this post in advance - as I am not sure where I shall be on Sunday morning. Friday I leave for London, to stay with Liz, then Saturday down to Folkestone for another WWDP Preparation Day, and at some point I shall return to Kirby Muxloe. Depending on various factors [weather, fatigue, traffic etc] I shall make my decision later as to when I return to the Midlands. But I so want to be in church on Sunday morning. Bob is preaching through the book of Nehemiah – this week is chapter 2. Last week’s sermon was great [find the podcast on the KMFC website] But there are 6 words in ch2 v6 which always challenge me. Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?”

Lewis chess king and queen

I am not going to write a whole theology based on those six words – but I often wonder about them.

  • Why does it tell us she was beside him?
  • Was she involved in the discussion – plying Artaxerxes with questions - Ask him how long he’ll be gone for, when is he coming back? Who will be cupbearer while he’s away?…
  • Was she happy and encouraging about the planned trip – or full of anxieties?
  • Was she just there in the Throne Room to look pretty – or did her husband value her thoughts and ideas, even though she was a ‘mere woman’ in a male dominated society?

But the very fact that the passage mentions her presence is important for me – it reminds me that marriage is a partnership. It works best if we work at it together. That doesn’t mean we have to do everything together, or like exactly the same things [he has Star Trek, I have Downton – he likes modern art, I prefer the Pre-Raphaelites – he has cheese on toast, I have Marmite…] but I think it does mean we make space for each other to enjoy different things, as well as sharing time doing things we both like.

I have been stupidly busy this term. I choose that word carefully – all my supply teaching and WWDP commitments have come together and not left me much space to breathe. I know it will ease up by early November, but I have seen an awful lot of motorways in the past few weeks, and slept in beds all over the country. Bob has been patient as ever, and tolerant of the neglected ironing basket [even more neglected than usual] On Monday night he cooked a wonderfully romantic candlelit dinner, all ready for me on my return from Somerset. That was totally unexpected, and such a lovely thought. I hope to return the kindness once my schedule lightens [about the time his workload changes up a gear, as Advent approaches]

Nehemiah’s story shows how everyone gets involved in rebuilding Jerusalem, and together the work gets done. Whether it is marriage, family, friendship, church fellowship, workplace or community, if we see it as a partnership and work together tpo support and encourage, then we will achieve more. Annie Valloton’s image of ‘bearing one another’s burdens’ is brilliant


I am not sure how long my Kent-Leicestershire journey will take – or when I will get back. But I’d like to be back in time to be sitting in my pew for the sermon if I can.