Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Carol services

Monday 23rd December 2013
One window sill at Thorneyburn
representing a "secular Christmas"...

...whilst all the others are decorated for the
traditional candlelit St Aidan's Carol Service

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hundreds of people at countless services

Friday 20th December 2013
Sunshine and showers, sorrow and joy, as the eleven o'clock funeral was followed by the 2 o'clock end-of-term service for Bellingham First School.  The day before in the same church we had had the Middle School Carol Service (140 children and 20 adults) in the morning and the Village Carol Service in the evening.  The register of services (which we are required to keep) shows that 365 people came to worship in St Cuthbert's church in those 48 hours  --  but not one of those people will show up in the national statistics for the Church of England because they weren't coming to Sunday services.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One more school perfomance

Wednesday 18th December 2013
Kielder First School prepare for a performance of drumming
after local guests have joined them for Christmas Lunch (with all the trimmings)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Time to draw breath

Monday 16th December 2013
"The British Skies" ?
I looked up a few days ago and saw this island in the sky.
In the intervening ten days there  hasn't been much time for looking up  --  a very poor state of affairs: one should never fail to look outwards beyond oneself to greater things.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Northumberland Dark Sky Park

Tuesday 10th December 2013
The backcloth to the stable scene at the Christmas Play by Greenhaugh First School, the only school in the world which could have the topical line from Joseph: "Let's take the baby outside, Mary, and look at that enormous star.  It's lucky we're in a Dark Sky Park."
This is the day after the announcement of the recognition of our Dark Sky Park, the third in the world:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bellingham Christmas Tree Festival

Monday 2nd December
A wonderful variety of Christmas Trees presented by many different local groups.  [More pictures on Events page]

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting ready for Advent

Saturday 30th November 2013
Driving around to deliver Advent calendars to young families, I couldn't resist stopping to photograph this extraordinary clear sky between the dark hills and the oppressive cloud.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another visit from the Middle School

Monday 25th November 2013

The Last Supper

Sunday 24th November 2013
The Parish Communion at Thorneyburn included the dedication of a tapestry worked by a member of the congregation, a wonderful devotional focus at Communion.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A morning at Elsdon

Saturday 23rd November 2013
Residents of Elsdon at the final clearing up of the bonfire... I made my way to St Cuthbert's Coffee Morning.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Middle School Visits

Monday 18th November 2013
On the way to the Tarset valley...
to meet Year 6 of the Middle School at St Aidan's Thorneyburn

Friday, November 15, 2013

Income Tax

Wednesday 6th November 2013
It is said that only two things are certain "death and taxes".  I'm not sure if that's true, but today the inevitability of Income Tax confined me to the house for most of the day.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday 14th November 2013
Our resident blackbird enjoying cotoneaster berries

For me, yesterday was one unscheduled thing after another until the evening's PCC meeting which was actually in the diary.  Today has been visits from Year 5 of the Middle School coming to St Cuthbert's Bellingham as part of their topic on the local area's history, geography and heritage.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Across the Wannies

Tuesday 12th November 2013
The view towards Sweethope Lough as I crossed the Wannies on my way to a lunchtime meeting of Area Deans discussing how to make better provision for clergy to develop their ministry.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Sunday

Sunday 10th November 2013
Bellingham cemetery chapel where we held the joint Remembrance Service with Bellingham Cadets on parade

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Frosty November

Saturday 9th November 2013
After the early mist has cleared
Today included a pre-Christmas Fair in aid of St Cuthbert's Bellingham and preparations for Remembrance Sunday.

Friday, November 8, 2013

St Aidan's Club

Friday 8th November 2013
St Aidan's after-school Club looked at trees, seeds and autumn leaves; thought about the Garden of Eden and family trees; each sowed a seed to take home (hoping to grow an oak, beech, sycamore, hawthorn or rose), shared some apples and wrote their prayers of thanksgiving on appropriately-shaped leaves to be hung on a tree in church on Sunday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Water in Church

Wednesday 6th November 2013
A school visit to look at how we use water in Church involved a doll being brought to the font wearing the christening robe that had been worn by her owner (carrying her) in this very church.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guy Fawkes night

Tuesday 5th November 2013
Bonfire night at Elsdon

A perfect cold clear evening as hundreds of people gathered  at Elsdon for a tremendous bonfire and spectacular firework show 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

All Saints' Sunday

Sunday 3rd November 2013
Candles lighted in memory of the departed whom we love but see no longer here on earth in this life.  We thank God for them and for the saints drawing us with them towards the infinite love of God.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pause in the week

Saturday 2nd November 2013
Zeb sits to please me but his paw keeps  me where he wants me.  (Sorry about the flash in his eyes.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Hallow e'en"?

Thursday 31st October 2013
Where could this be?

Not everyone knows that "Hallow e'en" is a short form of "All Hallows Even", in other words the evening before All Hallows Day (or the Eve of All Saints Day).  [hallow...holy...halo...]  So we're getting ready for the coming celebrations when we give thanks for all the saints.
     The harvest pumpkin which ended up in  Thorneyburn was carved to give a reminder in St Aidan's church that 31st October should be a preparation for rejoicing at the people who light up our lives and lead us to God:

"All is safely gathered in"

Sunday 27th October 2013
Members of the congregation after the Harvest Thanksgiving

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday preparations

Saturday 26th October 2013
Sweet-natured, convalescent Molly with her autumn halo

It's a day of preparations for a baptism and for the final church Harvest Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Between the rain

Friday 25th October 2013

An autumn picture for Laura in hospital missing the fells

Zooming in on the Lone Pine on the horizon
I think I'm right that the farmer's wife had a small pine seedling ready to plant in her garden when she discovered that her husband had taken it to replace the previous Lone Pine.  His explanation was that it was important to maintain the traditional landmark.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The last school harvest celebrations

Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October 2013
Off to talk about Harvest with the North Tynies.
The last school harvest celebrations of the season were in St John's Church for Otterburn First School and in Bellingham First School.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Good weather for frogs

Monday 21st October 2013
As I open the gate into the glebe, a lovely shiny frog plops down  a step away from me and sits enjoying the drizzle.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Harvest at Otterburn

Sunday 20th October 2013
"Potato People" made by the St John's Otters and offered at the altar in thanksgiving for our gifts (including the harvest gifts of fruit and vegetables and our own God-given gifts such as the children's artistic and creative gifts)
[Photograph by John Crichton]

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Saturday 19th October 2013
Trees outside Otterburn which always fascinate me.
[See "Thought for the day" page]

Monday, October 14, 2013

A school Harvest celebration

Monday 14th October 2013
Before the service

After the service

Harvest services

Sunday 13th October 2013
The peripatetic pumpkin has reached St Aidan's Thorneyburn!
After Elsdon's Harvest Thanksgiving Eucharist in the morning, Thorneyburn had an informal evening Harvest service rounded off with the now traditional "soup swap" in which everyone enjoyed the soups that other people had brought to the service.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday 12th October 2013
The last flourish of summer
Various callers including Churchwardens bringing offers of assistance and a parishioner showing us an album recording the first year of the Bellingham Community Orchard.  Otherwise the customary steady preparations for tomorrow's services.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seeds of autumn

Friday 11th October 2013
St Aidan's Club went on an after-school walk to gather wildflower seeds suitable for scattering in a meadow.  I was kept fully occupied guiding my little group towards the most appropriate seeds (avoiding docks and thistles) and keeping an eye open for approaching traffic whilst being told how to translate words by a young Polish boy.  It was quite restful to return to the school building to tell Jesus' parable of the sower whilst the children ate oaty flapjacks to complete the session with its harvest theme.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Friends' Quiz

Thursday 10th October 2013
My raffle prize from the quiz and supper organised at the Cheviot by the Friends of St Cuthbert's Bellingham in aid of the building repairs.  (To join the Friends, leave your contact as a comment!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A reunion

Tuesday 8th October 2013
A warm autumn morning when the light catching the silver birch made me wonder how much it had grown since we came here seven years ago.
After turning Molly out and saying Morning Prayer in church, I went off for a three-hour meeting of Rural Deans with the Archdeacon.  Home to sorting out various things before Evening Prayer,  stable duties and then going out to supper with a friend visiting from Sussex whom I hadn't seen since the days of Trilby (Molly's predecessor but three).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vacancy for a Team Vicar in North Tyne and Redesdale

Thursday 3rd October 2013
Otterburn Vicarage
If you are interested in coming to minister in this wonderful part of rural West Northumberland, see

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A remarkable mixture

Tuesday 1st October 2013
Molly recovering after surgery on her foot
After leaving her at the equine clinic, I took the horsebox to Hexham for its MOT.  Whilst that was being done, I walked up into town to visit the exhibition of embroidery inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels  --  and ended up buying a small work of art.  Down at the testing station again, I collected the smug horsebox and met some parishioners over lunch at the livestock mart.  One phonecall to the vets resulted in no news and the second in the information that Molly was in the course of being treated.  The day ended with great relief at having her safely home.