Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrong number

Wednesday 31st October 2012
Autumn on the fells
I answered the telephone in my usual way: "Hello...Bellingham Rectory".  The voice said "Do you do red-eyed tree frogs?"  After repeating himself once, the caller realised that I was puzzled.  So he asked "Do you sell amphibians?"  In the current weather we are all amphibians and I was reluctant to say he had the wrong number as I like to think that the Church will try to give any help that people request.  But this time I had to admit myself beaten.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giving a talk

Tuesday 30th October 2012 
I was invited to give a talk to the Hexham West End Methodist Church ladies' group  --  and, being topical, I spoke about some of our experiences on the pilgrimage to Canterbury.
  A day when we heard about (and prayed for) people caught up in the hurricane in New York state.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Monday 29th October 2012

North Lambeth
The pilgrims who had been on the Deanery Pilgrimage to Canterbury held a day's workshop discussing what we had learned, watching the film The Way, recommended by the Dean of Canterbury, and planning our presentation and future ideas for Bellingham Deanery.  [Watch "this space".  Or see separate page "Deanery Pilgrimage to Canterbury".]

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Snow in October

Saturday 27th October 2012
Molly caught between autumn and winter
Instead of exercising her immediately after Mattins, I avoided the dangers of ice and spent much of the morning in my study, with an interval for coffee with a caller who described herself as "the Mug Lady".  Actually she was the Chairman of a Parish Council who was bringing me a commemorative mug which I had ordered for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
     During the lunchtime ride I was able to take a number of photographs for the Deanery DVD.
Molly kept still for this one.
     The rest of the day was mostly preparation for tomorrow's services.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Remember this?

Friday 26th October 2012
The year of the Queen's Diamond Jubiliee is not yet over.  There was a wine and cheese evening in Corsenside when we saw some of the photographs taken during the June holiday weekend and were reminded that there will be a ceremonial burial of a Time Capsule at St Cuthbert's Corsenside at 12.30 on Sunday 9th December.  Do come!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Deanery Chapter

Thursday 25th October 2012
"Look downe, thou spiest out Crosses in small things;
Look up, thou seest birds raised on crossed wings..."
John Donne was writing before the invention of aircraft...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Tuesday 23rd October 2012
The view from Greenhaugh School
I phoned the Head Teacher to ask for some children to help me with a little project.  [If it comes off, read about it on the blog for 8th November.]  In fact, I didn't go anywhere very far afield but had some discussions about pastoral matters with two parishioners, a meeting for financial planning with a diocesan advisor who came to see me, and far-ranging discussions with other parishioners about marriage and what we might understand of the divine in life.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Days drawing in

Monday 22nd October 2012
The stable at dusk

After I have been out and about (telling a story at the Sure Start children's centre, parish visiting and so on), it's time to stable the horse for the night.  Seeing the lights in the old building makes me feel a closeness to the grooms who have worked here over the centuries.  It's one of the shared experiences that transcend distance, reminding me of the close connection between human beings in different times and places.  It's one of the hints of the way that all our lives are embraced within eternity.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn colours and harvest celebrations

Sunday 21st October 2012
St Peter's Falstone
Falstone harvest lunch
After a shortened Communion service in church, we adjourned to the village hall where we sang some more harvest hymns and displayed symbols of the harvest: soil and water without which nothing would grow, bread representing the staple food and also a reminder of Christ as the "Bread of Life" need to help us grow spiritually, milk, eggs and knitted woollen garments (which we have made to send to the homeless in 
Newcastle this winter), the products of cows, hens and sheep, fruits and vegetables from our gardens. 
 Despite the very difficult year
 on our farms, we thank God for what we have, and we enjoyed 
sharing our harvest lunch

Later in the afternoon the under-5's had their harvest service.  The children heard the Bible story of Jesus' feeding the crowd of 5.000.  They each brought a fruit or vegetable and we agreed to send the gifts to one granny who is in a care home.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New artist in residence

Saturday 20th October 2012
On the way to High Green to meet the new Artist-in-residence.

Imagine the amazing contrast to find oneself living here for a year under the VARC scheme (Visual Arts in Rural Communities) after spending a long time in London.

Friday, October 19, 2012

All-parish social evening

Friday 19th October 2012
A wide range of home-grown entertainment from Northumbrian fiddlers to poems and Flanders and Swan songs with a pooled supper provided a social event to enable people from all the churches of the North Tyne and Redesdale Team to enjoy an evening together and get to know each other a bit better.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

St Luke's Day

Thursday 18th October 2012
St Luke represented in a window of Bellingham parish church
The book and quill pen above his head are a reminder that he was one of the Gospel writers.  Each of the four evangelists has a traditional symbol, Luke's being the ox.  This may be because it is Luke's Gospel that tells of the sacrifice in the temple at the beginning of Jesus' life.
  At the morning celebration of Holy Communion, we remembered not only his role as evengelist but also his life as a doctor.  We offered laying-on of hands with prayer for health and wholeness, as well as praying for all the people mentioned in the requests fixed to the church "prayer tree".
     I had a meeting with the licensed Reader after the service and in the evening talked various things over with a parishioner who came to see me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Less travelling

Wednesday 17th October 2012
Lovely when the rain stops
A meeting of representatives from the three Churches in Bellingham reviewed the Bellingham Show and the Harvest Supper before planning the joint Remembrance Sunday service and co-ordinating Christmas publicity and village carol service.
     In the evening I went to West Woodburn for a meeting of Corsenside PCC.  Apart from strictly church matters (such as replacing the collapsing church roof), we discussed our concerns for  the many people whose livelihood and day-to-day life have been seriously affected by the continuing poor weather.  We continue to pray for them and hope that they know we are available to offer any support that we can.  Meanwhile we're trying to work out how else we can help.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A wet harvest thanksgiving day

Tuesday 16th October 2012 
Greenhaugh School in St Aidan's Thorneyburn
For small children it's nearly half an hour's walk from school to church.  Being country children, they're not put off by the rain.
They simply wear their wellies.
After the service I visited a parishioner, took some requested information to the Sure Start ("North Tynies"), arranged for a forthcoming assembly at Bellingham First School, had a quick chat with the Head of the Middle School about a future project and called on the Adult Education officer.  Then home to lunch and to change my hat from Team Rector of North Tyne and Redesdale to that of Rural Dean of the area.  Went down to Wark to admire and comment on the latest draft version of the Deanery DVD :

More pictures needed of activities around all your churches and of nearby countryside!

After (stabling the horse and) Evening Prayer, it was up the North Tyne to a meeting about Greystead churchyard and finally to deliver some music to Falstone.  Home for a late supper and bed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Preparing for winter

Monday 15th October 2012
After variations on frost, mist, wind and sometimes sun, I have been organising straw and hay for Molly; and in tidying the shed, have found carpet offcuts which I decided to put in my sunless, north-facing study with its three outside walls, hoping to raise the temperature a bit this year.  (It's fine at the moment, somewhere around 56 F/ 13 C.)  
     In between I managed to make room for the Colonel from Otterburn Camp to sit on a chair when he came to discuss arrangements for Remembrance Sunday.  Before re-arranging the furniture again, I went out parish visiting until Evening Prayer.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday harvests

Sunday 14th October 2012
Morning sun (on my way to Horsley for the 9 o'clock service)
Beautiful, but I look forward to the clocks going back to "proper" GMT.
     After Horsley, it was down the valley to Elsdon for the Harvest Thanksgiving, then up to the top of Redesdale to Byrness Village Hall for the harvest lunch of sandwiches and cakes  --  and soup made from the vegetables offered in last Sunday's harvest service.
Across to the North Tyne valley to sort myself out before Thorneyburn's Harvest Thanksgiving, the third or fourth year that we are holding our "Soup Swap Service":  bring a flask of soup and drink someone else's brew after the hymns, readings and prayers.
Jesus' teaching "Consider the lilies...", (God cares for every wild flower and you are infinitely more precious) reminds us not to worry about things that we cannot influence.  Only selfish or proud people think that they should be in control all the time. 
     People involved in farming know that they aren't in control: they're at the "mercy" of the elements, of market forces, of political bias...and they  (and all of us) need to throw ourselves on God's mercy  --  which can save us from destructive anxiety, despair or  resentment, and which can bolster our generosity and our gratitude for what we do have.
     At Harvest Festival we express our gratitude to God for what he provides for us, not only directly in nature but also through other people.  We all have our part to play, starting with sharing what we have  --  hence the great soup swap!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bright and chilly

Saturday 12th October 2012
A day of riding, delivering harvest gifts to people who have had a hard year, answering messages or e-mails, and preparing for tomorrow's services.

Friday, October 12, 2012

St Aidan's Club

Friday 12th October 2012
Making the harvest loaf
before I tell the story of
Jesus' feeding 5,000

The fruit of the after-school club
ready for the oven


Thursday 11th October 2012
Walnut tree two years after planting
I was happy to see that the walnut tree that I had sponsored was doing well when I called in the Tarset Community Orchard on my way home from taking assembly at Greenhaugh First School.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Up to Kielder

Tuesday 9th October 2012
     After assembly at Kielder First School (with the parable of the Good Samaritan and some enthusiastic unaccompanied singing from all eight children), I went to the village shop for a few things.
The shop caters for everyone....

....including the local mallards

School visit after harvest

Monday 8th October 2012
Who has eaten half the harvest loaf?

Answer:  It was Year 5 of Bellingham Middle School who  came as part of their topic on local community (geography and heritage) and asked why there was so much food in church and was that really an enormous loaf of bread on the altar.  
At Harvest Festival we give thanks to God for all the good things in our lives and we remember to share them with other people.  so it seemed a good idea to break the loaf and give some to everyone who wanted a piece.  Just at that moment some strangers came into the church to  have a look round; so they were able to enjoy our harvest loaf  too.  (I hope the Baker is reading this so that he knows how much his offering was appreciated.)

Chaotic Sunday

Sunday 7th October 2012
Autumn at Otterburn
The normal first duty of the day was to feed the horse and turn her out into the paddock.  There was frost on the windows of the cab of the horsebox  --  which I had to use because the car is out of action.  First delay.  Drove to St Cuthbert's to park it before the space was filled by cars.  Unlocked the church and walked back.           Remembered that we had found ourselves short of booklets for the 9.30 Bellingham Family Communion service.  Tried to run some more off, but the computer wasn't co-operating.  Decided to take the Corsenside service sheets as a substitute for today.  Nearly to church and saw the paramedic's vehicle across the road.  Someone coming to church had fallen, hit her head and left some of her blood in the road.  She was sitting on a dining chair outside the nearest house before being taken to hospital.  Second delay  --  and her bandaged head along with my bruised chin (as the result of minor oral surgery) made it look as though we had had a punch-up outside church.  Harvest service began late.  Congregation crowded to the front to catch the words of a swollen-lipped Rector.
     Horsebox drives at half the speed of the car.  Reached Otterburn at 10.50 to find that we weren't properly organised for the baptism. The person in charge of the baby's candle and cards for the godparents has tonsilitis.  Messages being relayed by third party between non-speaking Rector and computerless baptism visitor have not been entirely successful.  Nor is sound-system working properly.  Service started late.  Baby very good to make up for it all.
     Back to Rectory at 1.30 for my fourth meal of soup and yoghurt.
Just time to borrow husband's car (he being back from taking service at Falstone) to drive 17 miles to St Francis church Byrness for the Patronal Festival (St Francis' Day being 4th October) combined with Harvest Thanksgiving and animal service.
Zeb running to church
We parked at the village hall and had a walk through the woods to the church.  There is no picture of Zeb in church trying very hard to lead the service.  Whilst my colleague manfully soldiered on with hymns and prayers and sermon, Zeb struggled with me to let him stand in the front pew with his front paws on the backrest facing the  congregation.
The altar frontal made by parishioners showing St Francis preaching to the animals (and partly hidden by harvest produce)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Middle School at Corsenside

Thursday 4th October 2012
St Cuthbert's church, Corsenside

The coach arrives from Bellingham Middle School

Walking through the farm.... the church

Staff choose the gate instead of the wall steps

Ringing the bell near the font

Testing their vocations as clergy and preachers
A stone added to the prayer cairn

Drawing the outside of the building

About to leave with a blessing

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back from pilgrimage

Wednesday 3rd October 2012
Canterbury Cathedral visible on the horizon
from the Pilgrims' Way in Kent
See separate page ("Deanery Pilgrimage to Canterbury") for more pictures [page to be edited over the next few days]