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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring turns to winter!

Wednesday 22nd March 2017
 A spring-like sunset at the weekend followed by snow, sleet, daffodils, blossom, rain, wind....

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Beneath the surface

Tuesday 14th March 2017
     Life beneath a calm scene like this one is anything but calm for a farmer whose cow this morning went into labour with a posterior presentation.  The vet had to perform a caesarean in the farmyard.  A plastic bag caught by the wind startled the sedated cow.  Cow kicked vet.  White-faced vet fell to ground.  Farmer threw bucket of water over vet's head.  Vet completed operation.  Calf wasn't breathing.  Farmer held calf upside-down and shook him till the fluid was released from his mouth.  Vet sewed up cow and drove away. 
     Vet's leg wasn't broken.  Calf was alive.  Cow was unhappy.  Farmer was late feeding sheep who had given up waiting and wandered off to a far-away hill  --  when I met the farmer on his quad bike going to take the sheep feed to them.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday 12th March 2017
Some lovely sun as I strode up the hill between services which covered the full range (Parish Communion in Bellingham, Messy Church in Falstone and Evensong in Thorneyburn).  The air alive with the sound of skylarks.  heard the first curlew two days ago and smelt the honey balm poplar buds for the first time this year.

Diocesan meeting

Saturday 11th March 2017
Late afternoon mist over the river just before Evening Prayer

Friday in Lent

Friday 10th March 2017
Mustn't let some cloudy drizzle put me off the getting fit schedule!  managed to fit it in between staff meeting and parish visits  --  and was rewarded by the sight of a low-flying oyster catcher shrieking past.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Getting in training

Thursday 9th March 2107
Today the skylarks sang on the fell above Bellingham as I took exactly half an hour to get to this point from the Rectory [the building behind the trees directly above the s of sang in the first line of this text]  --  starting to get fit for walking St Cuthbert's Way (after yesterday, the last day of good winter riding).
  Back in good time to lead the ecumenical Lent group who were looking at the lives of St Aidan and St Cuthbert in our series on local Christians from the 7th century to today (Oswald to the Food Bank).  Then hurrying on to a long school governors' meeting and home in time for 9 o'clock supper (after stabling the horse for the night).

Semi-day off

Wednesday 8th March 2017
Monday felt like spring with the frogs of Pundershaw forest bobbing in their spawning pools.  Today between the Tarset Burn and the river North Tyne a brisk cold wind diluted the warmth of the clear bright sun.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

Sunday 26th February 2017

Stormy and sunny and the happiness of a baptism and the sorrow of a burial  --  all in between two other Sunday services at Bellingham and Thorneyburn

Friday, February 24, 2017

Another funeral

Friday 24th February 2017
The hearse is on its way coming over the bridge to the cemetery on a bright cold day after the service in church.