Monday, 31 March 2008

River Walk - River Wear, Durham

We couldn't stand not to enjoy the outdoors so we walked, as suggested, along the river just down the hill from the Durham cathedral and castle. The sun was shining, we could hear birds, and at one point the rush of the water over a small falls. The cathedral/castle is on a peninsula so there are beautiful huge stone bridges as well.

Dogs of Durham

In our ongoing visiting of places in England today we're in Durham. The initial idea was for JD to attend a conference of Society of Theology, but that seems to have been just an excuse! He's decided not to attend, and we'll just have a good visit. Train only took 2 hours, we've got a cheap but lovely B&B (45 pounds) and its a TOTALLY awesome beautiful day.

One of the first things to catch our attention after we have a passable lunch is a DOG!! He looks like he's happy to be snapped, doesn't he? And then we began to see more and more and more dogs - everyone in Durham seems to have a dog and was walking their dog on Monday ... who could blame them in the lovely spring day.

This is the dog that started a series called "Dogs of Durham" which, though interesting of about 10 dogs, is not printed here

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Bridie's new mum

One of the most difficult things for me and JD about leaving the US for studies in Manchester was the fact that it wasn't going to easy to bring our beloved little kitty Bridie (short for the Irish saint Brigid whom we rescued at Angell pet hospital in Boston) with us to England.
While we did go through the steps to bring Bridie with us - blood tests, microchip - we didn't do it soon enough for her to travel when we did in Sept 2006.
The best plan at that time was for her to "board" with my friend Mary. Bridie and Mary had already fallen in love with one another so we were very happy about it.
Well, pretty soon after we were here we realized (mostly due to our travels back to the US) it wasn't wise to bring Bridie to the UK at all. SOOOOOO,

Bridie has been adopted by Mary; they've moved from Brookline to Providence - and now with Mary's fiance Ben.

Mary just sent some snaps to show how happy they are together .... don't they look great?? (and reading one of my favorite books, the spiritual memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert)

WE are so grateful for the wonderful loving homes Mary has given Bridie and how happy they are - even though we miss having the spirit of a pet in our home.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter Monday

After resting on the rest of Easter ... and a nice meal of fresh scallops! We woke on Easter Monday (a legal bank holiday here in UK) and prepared for a traditional Easter Dinner with American friends! Friends we've met at the University from Seattle (and LA/Pasadena) and Midwest - both students and post-Doc. It was a great meal - ham, roasted potatoes, veg (fresh green beans and wild mushrooms) as well as awesome dessert (super rich chocolate cake).
That's us sitting to the first course (sorry we're missing one spouse).
In the break between courses we had an art project - people got to make Easter "animals" from puff balls - a kit I got at Tesco (sometimes yes, close to Target!). There were "supposed" to be chicks or rabbits but on close inspection you'll see the gene pool was somewhat mixed! All in good Easter Monday fun! And a new tradition perhaps - so much nicer to celebrate with a fabulous meal and friends on Monday!
Happy Easter !!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Emmanuel Hats!

HAPPY EASTER means Easter Bonnet "Competition" at Emmanuel. To the far right, is the WINNER 2008! Note the resemblance to the Easter Garden - good choice of theme. AND the large Easter egg "prize!" Yummy!
lots of chocolate here, but I was missing real jelly beans (and JellyBellies) as well as PEEPS!!

Next here is 2nd place, she'd won two times in a row before this year, so she had to be a good "sport" about it, but it was a pretty good entry again!

I had to judge last year and that was awful ... judging KIDS!! ugh!

Then there's THIRD place - actually someone who looks the happiest to have won. You can't see hat so well, but there are chicks and real broken eggs there. She WAS truly happy ! And that's her husband he was happy too!
Another ALLELUIA moment...
This is the hallway at Emmanuel - those names in the background are from one of the old churches and they're those lost in WW1 from the parish.

11:00 Emmanuel

I arrived at Emmanuel with their liturgy in progress led by the lay reader. Then we said the Peace together and I proceeded with the Eucharistic prayer.
This is their church - and they love it because it was built within their memory! It's obviously newer, with some of the reredos and altar "saved" from one of the two old churches which were destroyed before this was built. There is some natural light from a huge skylight and yes those are exposed flourescents! The altar is "open" with an Easter Garden (a tradition here - altho not always IN the altar).

These below are of the Easter Garden - so lovingly created each year... The 3 crosses on Calvary, on one side then the open tomb (look at the little cloth "left behind") on the other. Last year because I was the only minister, I had to be in charge of opening the tomb (moving that round rock) on Easter morning !
That was an ALLELUIA as well!!

10.00 St James

ALLELUIA at St James ... by this time its 10.00 AM and you can see the bright sun shining into the sanctuary. We don't use this altar, but do use the altar rail. The banners are for the Mothers' Union. There's a paper on the floor with some memorial names - not sure who or why. This is the oldest church in the team - roots back to Elizabeth I's time (obviously not this building, which is "listed") and the "mother" to the other Anglican churches in the team.

I preached from the Eagle pulpit (probably a lecturn), not the pulpit at the top of the steps (with the hanging fall) as no one goes up there. A copy to follow. Again, it's SO bright because the sun had come out and was reflecting on the snow. You can't see some of the work that needs to be done on the church (ie chipping paint, falling kneelers, etc) and it doesn't matter anyway on Easter, does it?

Dawn at St Philip's

Here is the interior (although dark) of St Philip's with the Pascal candle so beautifully decorated. The wardens and people outdid themselves for Holy Week as well as 10 of them showing up at Dawn. Then they came back for a full English breakfast before the 10.30 service - but I was home preparing for my next two... Alleluia!!

The liturgy included renewal of baptismal vows. It was particularly meaningful for one man who came forward; he'd been baptized as a child and quite a regular attender but wanted to make a re-commitment (in fact wanted to be re-baptized which wasn't necessary). This part of the service was very meaningful to him - I was grateful to be part of it. He had earlier told me he'd struggled with depression for 30 years and only the past 9 months has he been on a helpful medication. His story was definitely one of Resurrection ! ALLELUIA!!

Here we are outside St Philip's for the Easter Dawn service... the faithful driving through the snow. It's about 6 AM and we actually did kindle a fire outside for the new light of Easter, sang a hymn "Shine Jesus Shine", and light our candles before our feet froze and we went indoors.

Easter Dawn

Woke up this Easter morning at 5:00 AM - yes AM! - and it was already beginning to get light. But seemed lighter because there was SNOW all over ... about 2-3" in a lovely blanket all over. The streets were quiet and I ran about taking photos because it was so lovely.
This is the best the pub across our street will ever look! While it's named "the Angel" the customers appear not to be.

This is the back garden - in the distance on the right upper you can see the spire of St James Church! (one of "my" churches) Yes, it's dawn but you also get an idea of the constant light from the security lights all around the area.

So the day starts off well ALLELUIA!! The Lord is Risen indeed!!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Simnel cake

A very lovely lady from the parish brought this to our door on Holy Saturday. I had heard about Simnel cake as a lovely tradition here in England. They're usually baked for Mothering Sunday which is always during Lent here (not Mother's Day in May like the US). It's like a Christmas cake - rich, nuts, raisins inside - with marzipan on top.
Go to Wikipedia to find out more :

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday Burger

Good Friday "Burger" ??!?
Even though this looks like a fried chicken or fish ...

I confess!
YES !! Meat - a burger!! And, an incredible burger in fact. I'm not "old-school" enough not to eat meat on Good Friday. It's just not my spirituality - for many reasons. Not that there aren't good reasons to abstain ... not that other people shouldn't do what they want to observe holy days.

Although we didn't set out purposefully to eat meat on Good Friday, it just happened and then we realized ... no one's scandalized I hope.

But JD and I took a road trip to Didsbury on Good Friday just to go to new-ish restaurant/burger joint called "Gourmet Burger Kitchen". It's pretty much the most "American-food" place we've found here. The best burger so far and the usual great British chips! It's actually a New Zealand establishment ... go to a rather poor website to find more about it Gourmet Burger . The kitchens are popping up all over England/UK and I think we'll definitely be back - good value as well as good food.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

a VERY late Friday5 (Rev gal pals)

And can you believe that in two days it will be Palm Sunday for Western Christians? Our Lent is almost over, while our Orthodox sisters and brothers, whose liturgical year follows the older Julian calendar, are just starting theirs. Nicholas did a recent book report on George Washington, and we were surprised to find out that our first President's birthday was originally Feb. 11, since he was born just before the change to the Gregorian calendar. Apparently the change almost caused rioting, as some indignant people were sure that they were being cheated out of eleven days of their lives!

To help you adjust--and enjoy the process--here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

around the time of Jane Austin. I know it was probably not great for women, esp in ministry (duh!) but I really wonder what it would have been like to live such repressed lives. Did they really know how bad it was - the movie Persuasion near the end drives me mad when they can't say how the lovers feel. Obviously I'm romanticizing ..

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

so many things that could save the earth environmentally ... cars that drive without costing the planet its resources would be a start - have you seen the pollution in China and India?

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

great question :: probably depends on how I'm feeling. Usually looking toward the future tho; I'm not one of those always telling stories about "remember when ..." That really used to drive me crazy growing up that people were "stuck" in their high school days and not much beyond

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

It will always be known as the Lent we tried to get back to the USA!! I promised JD that working on finding the right job in the right place would be my priority and it has been ; that's been how the blog really got going as well.

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?

Lots of work (again, duh!) Missed Monday's clergy vow renewal; Wed with one school Easter celebration; Maundy Thurs eve service; Good Friday eve service; home communions (2); Sunrise PLUS 2 services Resurrection !
And then a great idea of our Easter Dinner with friends on Easter Monday. The Brits DO have it quite civilized to give everyone the day after Easter "off" ... a "bank holiday!" So we'll have the ham with all the trimmings and friends then. Altho a good G&T will have happened on Sunday after a nice nap!

This WAS fun.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

RevGalPals Friday 5

So alright it's Saturday night but I've been wanting to "play" with RevGalPals since I thought of having a website ages ago...  I'm not an official member but wanted to answer this week's Friday 6 (actually six this week) 

Spring :: 
What have you seen/heard this week that was a :
1 sign of hope 
the longer daylight ... here in Northern England that's a REAL big deal

2. an unexpected word of light in a dark place 
on Monday seeing the beauty of London by walking around and seeing daffodils, crocus, and even pink and white buds on the trees 
as well as my sister's artwork 

3 a sign of spring 
there are actually daffodils in my own back garden ! 

4  challenging/ surprising 
how easy it was to get to-from London (for a couple days) and how difficult it can be to return to a setting-environment where it's really hard to live (ie multiple deprivation, urban priority area ... that's Brit-speak for pretty bad inner city)

5 share a hope for the coming week
looking toward the week before Holy Week, just getting through all that needs to be "done" and hoping nothing else gets added in. 

Thanks for listening! 

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

St Luke's Chelsea London

We started walking back from the Albion Gallery toward Harrods for lunch. Passing a large church, St Luke's, Chelsea, did our usual snoop to see if it was open. Indeed! Not easy to get a photo of the interior - pretty typical anyway. But here's JD looking at their ministry link with Mozambique - cool! AND how about this needlepoint kneeler ... for inspiration perhaps. I haven't actually attempted kneelers but there's got to be lots of patterns.
Lunch WAS from Harrod's but only a 3 pound sandwich after oogling the food halls (yes, plural - amazing!!) We took them across the street to Starbucks to eat bec you couldn't eat anywhere inside the store. BTW We did not pay tribute to the Dodi&Diana love shrine on this trip.
Dinner our 2nd night - in Covent Garden area: french bistro "Jardin??".
Then a one-act play in a tiny theatre ... decent.

Beautiful Albert Bridge

At the left edge, the silver is an outdoor public art piece - I liked all the linear elements - with a tree and corner of glass building.

Two pretty cool snaps of the Albert Bridge from Chelsea to Battersey (I think) just near the Albion Gallery for ChanSchatz show. It was wicked cold but such great clouds, huH? Not every day in England is beautiful so you've got to really enjoy them - even with coat, hat, and gloves on!

Albion & surround

In front of the Albion looking RIGHT along the Thames ...

And looking LEFT ..

and beyond ...
What a beautiful day !! This is back across the Albert bridge - the Albion is on the ground floor of the building. Crisp and cool - perfect end of winter.