Saturday, May 20, 2017

after St Cuthbert's Way

Saturday 20th May 2017

 Six days of walking St Cuthbert's Way from Melrose... Lindisfarne...

...via the wilds of the borders...
...have left me busily catching up.  Today there have been Christian Aid envelope collecting, school governors' business, wedding and baptism preparation and numerous other things.
 [Look out for the full illustrated story in a couple of weeks' time!]

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A contented flock

Sunday 7th May 2017
Today's reading about Jesus as the Good Shepherd is well illustrated by this topical scene.  Whilst I hope that the Christian "flock" feels as secure and as well provided for as these North Tyne sheep, I also hope that they are energised and outward-looking enough to work for the benefit of people in all kinds of need nearby and further afield.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Polling day

Thursday 4th May 2017
The local people running the polling station believe so deeply in elections that they always reward voters for exercising their democratic responsibility: we are always offered sweets after we have voted; but today early voters also received a small Easter Egg!
     In contrast to this location, my last engagement of the day was at the cathedral in Newcastle where we had an evening session on Prayer Spaces in Schools.
Three of the Tyne bridges from the train

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spring is in the air

Wednesday 3rd May 2017
The swallows are back: two have been flying in and out of the stable since yesterday, alternating with the parent robins bringing food for the chicks floundering around in the deep bed of straw.  (I liaised with three schools, chaired a PCC meeting and answered the telephone for much of the day.)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On the road

Tuesday 2nd May 2017
A day of driving around visiting parishioners and organising things

Monday, May 1, 2017

No room in the ...stable

Monday 1st May 2017
Sorry, Molly, but you can't come in: the stable is not available.  Just as I was trying to decide if the weather was right to make this Molly's first night out for the summer, I found a baby robin in the stable waiting on the straw to be fed.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Varied services

Sunday 30th April 2017

The bishop and musicians in the organ gallery at Holy Trinity Church, Horsley
The morning's services were a traditional Sung Eucharist from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with grown-up sermon at Bellingham followed by a Family Eucharist at Falstone with plenty of active participation from children reading, leading prayers and acting out part of the Gospel story (whilst my address was less formal and illustrated).  In the afternoon I acted as Bishop's chaplain for the service celebrating the blessing of the restored organ at Horsley in Redesdale

Friday, April 28, 2017


Friday 28th April 2017

An imaginative depiction of Jesus's Resurrection suggests the different reactions of  the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb.  The one on the right, with closed eyes and spear in hand, misses the action.  The one in the middle peeps out from behind his shield, trying not to be noticed as he watches the Risen Christ standing above the sepulchre.  The one on the left watches openly, his shield lowered as he honestly faces the truth and witnesses the Risen Christ.  It's a good reminder of how we all vary in our response to the Gospel story and to the presence of the divine in our lives.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Term begins

Monday 24th April 2017
The promised photographs of the "Palm Sunday" procession following the donkey to "Jerusalem" (St Cuthbert's Church)


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tiny tragedies

Saturday 22nd April 2017
This is the track of the tiny tragedies, where the drying wind has reduced the large puddles to silt and the last tadpoles left alive remain wriggling in the mud...
but a little further on, the lambs benefit from dry weather in their first weeks since birth.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The days are drawing out

Friday 21st April 2017
Eight o'clock on Friday evening after bringing the horse in for the night and before ringing the funeral director

Our first crop of the year

Thursday 20th April 2017
     The second picking of rhubarb  --  to simmer with brown sugar?   ginger?   orange juice?  
     Off to make some more visits in the parishes before deciding

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Day

Sunday 16th April 2017
Celebrating new life, a fresh start and the hope that comes from the Easter message of Christ's resurrection


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday

Saturday 15th April 2017

On the way to church to make the Easter Garden
Starting with protective covering for the floor and rocks to build the cave which will make a tomb for Jesus...
adding some moss and beginning to place plants in the garden
A cross made for the hill of the Crucifixion
"Messy Church" lives up to its name

Illustrating the journey from the dead earth at the foot of the Cross where Jesus died on Good Friday to the new life and hope of the Resurrection where his disciples met the Risen Christ on the first Easter Day
[See the completed Easter Garden tomorrow!]

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

Friday 14th April 2017

No decorations in church on the most solemn day of the Christian year when we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus
"Peaceful, calm, dignity" was one of the comments in the visitors' book today

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week pilgrimage

Monday 10th April 2017
We joined the Bishop of Newcastle and her colleague,
the Bishop of Berwick, on their pilgrimage to the four corners of the diocese.  We were lucky with our day as the weather was springlike
 and primroses flowering on the banks as we came down from St Oswald's church, Heavenfield, towards Chollerton and on to Humshaugh for tea.

In the evening the Northern Cross pilgrims arrived in Wark to cook supper and sleep in Wark Town Hall on their way to Lindisfarne in time for Good Friday.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Easter Holidays

Friday 7th April 2017
The school gather to meet the donkey who is to lead the procession to church for the end-of-term service in which we recall the last week of Jesus' life on earth. 
     Off we go, commemorating Jesus "Triumphal Entry" into Jerusalem, riding humbly on a donkey.
[picture by Catherine Connolly]
The School ushers waving palm branches in the procession past Bellingham Town Hall:
[picture by Edwin Wilkinson]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bank day

Wednesday 5th April 2017
This facility now appears for a few hours on Wednesdays, somewhat to the consternation of my horse  --  who is not so large.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Not an April Fool

Saturday 1st April 2017
"A bit lacking in the ear department" was an owner's description of her donkey.  These ears belong to a horse; but I have spent the last two weeks carrying out virtual auditions for a suitable donkey to lead the school procession from School to Church for the end-of-term service which neatly coincides with the weekend of Palm Sunday.
     Others who didn't get the part of Jesus' mount were the six-year old which is too feisty and liable to buck or kick without warning...the two 8-month-olds from Ireland who are too immature for the responsibility...the nice donkey who refuses to be parted from his bad-tempered friend...the rescue donkey who is too nervous to cope with the big occasion...etc etc!
     I'm glad to be able to announce that a donkey by the name of The Right Honourable Horatio Donk has agreed to be our guest of honour!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring into Summer!

Tuesday 28th March 2017
Zooming about between parishes (Falstone, Bellingham and Corsenside) for bereavement visits, schools governors' meetings and Parochial Church Council, I keep intruding on the territory of the local blackface sheep with their expressive gaze.

Part of "Revitalising Redesdale"

Monday 27th March 2017
The River Rede in the valley between East Woodburn and Corsenside which I passed on my way from a meeting about developments at St Cuthbert's Church Elsdon: we can see it becoming the area's coolest and most atmospheric performance space!

Mothering Sunday

Sunday 26th March 2017
The clocks went forward in the night to "British Summer Time" so all the children were still asleep but some of the mothers came to church and were given flowers for Mothering Sunday as well as some of the Simnel Cake.
    According to my recipe book, a brother and sister (Simon and Nell) were going to visit their mother and couldn't agree on whether to take her a boiled cake or a baked cake.  So they each made their own and then stuck the two together with almond icing (marzipan).  that's how we come to have the sticky layer in the middle of the cake which they named after themselves: Sim and Nel.
     Well, it has become a custom to eat Simnel Cake at Easter, hence the eleven marzipan balls to represent the eleven loyal disciples (omitting Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus).
     Whatever the origin of the custom, it's a Church festival which gives thanks for all our experiences of mothering, caring, looking after and being loved  --  in the first place (and ultimately) by God who is the source of all love.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Nine months to Christmas (Lady Day)

Saturday 25th March 2017
Admiring the view

Tranquil to look at

Thursday 23rd March 2017
Tranqil to behold!  But when I call, a farmer tells me that a member of the family has had an allergic reaction to chemotherapy and has been transferred to hospital miles away, whilst the cows still need to be attended as they calve and the ewes are lambing and all the routine of the farm continues.