One of the loveliest things that I did when I was in Somerset recently was to go onto an empty beach and fly a kite. It was joyous! If you have never done it before (as I hadn’t) then I truly recommend it. I honestly don’t know why it was such fun; it is very difficult to put into words. It was calm and yet invigorating and somehow, there on this wide expanse of sand it felt almost a spiritual experience. Me, the wind and the kite. Clean and pure and simple and doing no harm to anyone or anything. But really, such enormous fun.
Me on Minehead beach
Writing about happiness, which I am, I suddenly feel that I’ve used this subject in an editorial before but no matter. It is important, so I am going there again. Neil’s glass of ale, one lunch time on the same holiday, had engraved on it: God made beer so that we would be happy! Well, don’t misunderstand, I am not advocating alcohol as a way to be rid of your problems and find happiness but hopefully you can find the underlying sentiment. God does indeed want us to be happy and have fun, I truly believe that but we do as always have to take some responsibility for ourselves.
Even 18 months on, the world is still in great difficulties and for many it is a fearful place. We must try to be positive even in small ways and doing something that makes you smile and makes you feel happy is important for our well-being, physical, mental and spiritual.
I hope you did something fun over the summer holidays.
The editor for the October edition will be Sylvia Clark.
I took up a healthy habit during lockdown last year – regular exercise. My vocation lends itself to long periods of time seated at a desk, or driving with haste from my appointment to another, so I resolved to adopt a healthier pattern of living.
I signed up for an online app on my phone, which helped me to keep track of my daily food consumption, as well as helping me to understand the reasons why I comfort eat. I combined a selective eating plan with regular exercise. I started very modestly, because I was so unfit, gradually building up my stamina, finding that climbing hills and walking for longer periods of time became easier as I lost weight.
I often found myself accompanied on my walks by a companion from our church or local community, and I enjoyed some illuminating conversations, and I was hopefully a welcome companion for them as well. Did you notice how muddy the footpaths and fields became over the winter? Families juggling working from home and home schooling simul-taneously were a common sight outside in the fields and parks gulping the healthy air, before retiring back indoors to a computer screen a little later.
One day a flyer landed on the Vicarage doormat from Macmillan Cancer Support, inviting me to consider taking part in the Thames Path Hike in July 2021. This was just what I was looking for. I eagerly signed up for the 13-mile trek from Windsor Racecourse to Cookham. That was the easy bit. Now I had to get really fit and I had a goal to aim for.
As the day of the hike grew closer, I began to appreciate just how close cancer charities are to people hearts. So many of us have loved and lost people to cancer. Generous donations came flooding in, to such an extent that I really had no option but to go ahead with it.
Do you remember our last heatwave in July? Well, as I arrived at Windsor Racecourse, driven by my eldest son Luke, I checked my phone for the latest weather forecast, and soon wished I hadn’t. Temperatures in the high 20s were forecast. Fortunately, I came dressed for the challenge, as you can see from my photo – suntan lotion, sun hat, lots of water, walking shoes, mobile phone, map, spare socks, etc.
Yesterday our sons climbed Snowdon. Youth is still on their side, and they achieved this impressive feat quite comfortably. However, they didn’t just wake up one day and decide to climb a mountain, they too came prepared. Any casual walkers who are thinking of embarking on a climb to the summit of Snowdon are greeted with several clear signs at the foot of the climb, urging all walkers to come prepared. That is exactly what they did, although I told them I didn’t think they would need an ice axe and crampons in August, but you never know!
Well, long story short, I made it. I must confess that I surprised myself. My legs carried me to the 10-mile marker, and the generosity of the donations, and the lives blessed by the money raised spurred me on to the finish line.
I passed through Eton, Dorney and Maidenhead, before finishing in Cookham village in the sweltering summer sun. How many of the walkers continued to the 26-mile full marathon distance is beyond me.
So what wise lessons can I share with you from my experiences? Well, I don’t know about wise, but isn’t it amazing what you can achieve with some determination from within and encouragement from others.
I do intend to continue with my regular exercise (and healthy eating), so if you fancy a walk and talk anytime, do let me know, I would be delighted to hear from you.
God bless you
Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the largest British charities and provides specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer. It also looks at the social, emotional and practical impact cancer can have, and campaigns for better cancer care.
Macmillan Cancer Support's goal is to reach and improve the lives of everyone who has cancer in the UK.
Find out more at www.macmillan.org.uk
Ben Sharp considers how his faith has been strengthened through his travels to the USA in a two-part series. In the next edition of Outlook Ben will write about his most recent trip to Colorado, but this month he reflects on his prior trips to the country.
I have always had a fascination with the United States of America. I don’t recall why or when that started but I suspect it came from the pervasiveness of American popular culture. American film, television, music and food seemed commonplace as I grew up and so perhaps it was natural I wanted to explore the origins of that culture through travel.
My first few trips to the USA were relatively superficial in opportunities to experience what one might call ‘real’ America. It was great to go to New York during my first visit, to an iconic destination familiar in the backdrop of so much visual entertainment. Subsequent work trips were to destinations off the beaten track, such as Ohio and Georgia. However, all of these journeys provided relatively fleeting opportunities to get properly out-and-about, as I moved from place to place, from hotel to hotel, from one pre-described objective to the next. Yes: in addition to travelling to achieve specified work goals, talk to my ever-patient wife about the meticulousness of some of our holiday planning!
Nevertheless, as I reflect on 17 years of tripping back and forth across the Pond, I can see the confluence of two aspects of my life has allowed me to get under the skin of America. My business trips to the USA became more frequent, often to parts of the country in the so-called ‘flyover states’: places away from the traditional tourist hot-spots on the West and East coasts where Hometown America is very much alive and well. Further, as my faith deepened and churchgoing became a central part of my life, I began having wonderful opportunities to meet brothers and sisters in Christ: people praising God for their blessings, seeking support for their troubles and interceding for others through prayer and action.
Waikiki Baptist Church
Three church experiences stand out as particularly memorable in showing the best of American life. On one occasion, I had been dispatched to Hawaii for two weeks - admittedly one takes the rough with the smooth though, as I had to give up a long sought after concert ticket for one of my favourite bands. I worshipped at Waikiki Baptist Church, only half a mile from the magnificent Waikiki Beach that is a true tropical paradise by day but by night sees the homeless and deprived from islands across the Pacific gather to spend time together. The preacher at the service had found himself on that beach, having been washed up both physically and meta-phorically ten years prior after the rough churn of substance abuse. Through a church outreach scheme he had come to faith and become clean from alcohol, took on a part-time job, accepted the offer of a place in a flat, deepened his faith and eventually become ordained as a pastor. His testimony moved me to tears and, after the service, I thanked him profusely for what he had said. He quoted Matthew’s gospel:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
A visit to Florida afforded me the chance to grow my friendship with a wonderful couple I had met a year earlier at the wedding of some friends at St Michael’s. I had worshipped at several smaller American churches but I had never experienced a ‘MegaChurch’ so they graciously took me to First Baptist Church Orlando: still relatively modest at a mere 7,000 seats(!). Yet, in the vastness of the church’s auditorium, with its guest welcome stations, coffee shops (yes, multiple) and “enter this door to accept Christ into your life” prayer room, it was the closeness and comfort of being with a loving, caring family while a familiar worship song was being sung that once again reduced me to a blubbering mess - evidently a recurring theme.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”
1 Corinthians 12: 12
St John's Episcopal Church in Washington DC
St John's Episcopal Church in Washington DC is known as ‘the Church of the Presidents’: every US president has attended a service there since it was built in 1816, with the exception of Richard Nixon. I worshipped there on the Sunday closest to 4th July/Independence Day a few years ago and I was nervous that I, as a lone British military traveller so proud of my own country and flag, might spontaneously combust during the singing of the trumpet sounding, flag waving, crowd rousing Battle Hymn of the Republic, one of the most prominent patriotic American songs. Evidently I made it through unscathed and was greeted incredibly warmly after the service at a bring-and-share lunch on the pavement outside, in which both the congregation and any passing pedestrians were encouraged to participate. Given the areas of significant deprivation in Washington, it was encouraging to see a loving arm of embrace put around anyone who approached God’s door.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”.
Opening line of The Battle Hymn of the Republic
No matter where I travel, but especially in the USA, I have managed to find a warm church community in which to remain grounded in faith while separated from my family and friends. My experiences at three churches in particular have helped me see ‘beneath the surface’ of America and have encouraged and enriched my belief in the worldwide unity of the Christian Church, in which the welcoming of strangers and outreach to local communities continue to be core tenets, expressed through love. It is wonderful to see Jesus’ own prayer being enacted so well:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17: 22-23
We meet online or in person monthly to chat about the challenges facing men. This is a safe space to support one another, share our concerns and struggles, as well as the things which help us with the challenges of life.
We also offer the chance for men to go on a walk & talk - an informal one-to-one chat.
Next meeting: Monday 13th September at 6.30 pm in Coates Lane, near the children's playground, for a group walk & talk followed by a drink in the Spindle & Thread. For more details contact Keith: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Channel Islands were not always islands. They were formed 2.6 million years ago and some of their oldest rocks form the cliffs of the south coast. As sea levels fell and rose over the ensuing 2 to 3 million years, the islands were formed long before Europe fully warmed up after the Ice Age. This means that many plant and animal species did not reach Guernsey before the sea isolated it. So, there are no toads, moles, squirrels, badgers, foxes or snakes here. Rabbits and cattle were introduced by man much later.
The earliest visitors came by boat from main-land France to hunt and fish. About 5000 BC, Neolithic people settled here. Evidence of their way of life can be found in excavated burial mounds, passage graves and standing stones that are dotted over the island.
Life on the island was inevitably linked with what was happening in Europe in the ensuing centuries. Romans, Vikings, Normans and the English all contributed to its history. Then in 1259, the island was ceded to Henry III and became a Crown Dependency.
The result of this arrangement is that the island is free to formulate its own laws, control its own government and taxes. Defence however is vested with the UK, which had consequences in 1940. The government is headed by the Bailiff as president of the Royal Court. A Lieutenant Governor is the Queen’s representative on the island.
After World War II, during which the island was occupied by the Germans, Guernsey life has continued to thrive and innovate in response to changing circumstances. Agriculture, horticulture, fishing and tourism all play a part in the economy as they always have done in varying proportions. The main change has been the rise of investment, insurance and trust companies. These now contribute in a significant way to the island’s wealth, due to a lower tax and duty regime.
So, how is life different if you come to live in Guernsey? Firstly you have to have a job or an open market house in order to live here. The property market consists of local and open market parts. You can live in the open market if you can afford the price, which is high and of limited number. Local market property is reserved for local people who were born here or who marry a local. Due to price inflation it is often very difficult for young people to buy, so they have to rent or move away.
Secondly, you would need health insurance as there is no NHS for doctors’ appoint-ments, hospital visits or prescriptions. Thirdly, you would need to adapt your driving style to accommodate the very narrow lanes, the filter system at junctions and the freedom to drive on the pavement if the road is too narrow! You do not pay for parking or car tax. There is also no inheritance, capital gains tax or VAT.
St Peter Port
For the tourist, Guernsey is a superb place to visit for a holiday. The climate is mild, generally warmer than the UK, a,though it can be windy. The beaches are small and rocky on the south coast but large and flat elsewhere. Water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling or swimming can all be enjoyed. However, this is not the Med. so expect lower sea temperatures. There is plenty of walking, on cliff paths, round the lanes or along the beaches at low tide. Most beaches have a kiosk that sells drinks, snacks and excellent Island ice creams. Boat trips to Herm and Sark give a taste of the smaller offshore islands with their own distinctive cultures. Herm is so small that you can walk around it in a few hours. Sark has a no car policy, so exploring has to be done by bike, horse and cart or on foot. It is possible to stay on both islands but advance booking is essential, especially at present.
There are many historical forts, castles and museums which can be found dotted around the island. Some of these are associated with defences against the French, and others give the history of the German occupation. The main museums at Castle Cornet and the Guernsey Museum at St Peter Port have special exhibitions alongside their permanent displays. The hop on hop off bus service makes getting around easy and cheap, but all the services start and end in St Peter Port, so a town hotel can be an advantage. The variety of tourist accommodation means that B&B up to fancy hotel is possible. You cannot however camp except on Herm. In normal times most visitors to Guernsey come from the UK, France, Holland and Germany. Air and sea connections are usually plentiful, but not this year! You can bring your car on the ferry from Portsmouth but I don’t recommend a large, wide vehicle once you get to the island, especially if you want to explore the more rural parts.
As Guernsey has an area of 25 square miles and a population of about 65,000 inhabitants, it is surprising how many churches there are. The island is divided into 10 parishes all of which, except St Andrew’s, border the sea. Our parish is Catel, and it’s church is thought to be on the site of an ancient fort, hence the name. A pre-Christian Neolithic menhir dating from 2500-1800 BC is in the church-yard. It is carved to represent a female with breasts and a necklace in relief (see above). It was discovered under the floor of the church in 1878, possibly buried there to rid the church of a link to older pagan beliefs. Inside the church, above the side altar are three medieval frescoes (see below). The central one depicts a figure holding a chalice and jug. It is not clear quite what its significance is. The two frescoes on either side of it are an interesting comment on religious belief at the time. The right hand one depicts a person on horseback addressing six well dressed people sitting at a table. The left hand one also shows six people who are either naked or in some distress. The idea apparently was that even if you were rich and well fed now, you are still going to come to the same state at your end, in the eyes of God.
At present (July/August) we in Guernsey are able to attend church without wearing a mask or social distancing, it has been lovely to sing hymns and participate more fully in the services. I hope and pray this will be possible at Hughenden soon. [Yes, restrictions were lifted and from 25th July congregations have been able to sing. Hurray. Ed.]
The main town of St Peter Port is well worth exploring using some of the literature available at the tourist bureau on the front. It has a myriad of narrow streets, many steps up and down the hillside, and street signs that are in Guernsey French. Very few people now speak the local language which is derived from Norman French. A few examples are below. I will leave it to you to translate:
Coume tchi que l’affaire va?
Enn amas bian merci
A la perchoine!
Join us to ride, walk or cycle between churches and help to keep Buckinghamshire’s churches, chapels and meeting houses looking beautiful and open for the future.
A great day out – have fun with the family.
Choose your own route, travel at your own pace, while raising vital funds. Money raised will be split 50:50 between church of your choice and BHCT, which gives grants for urgent repair and maintenance.
On 29th June a group of cyclists arrived at Christ Church Cathedral having cycled 87 miles from Bristol Cathedral. This is part of the newly created Cathedrals Cycle Route, a 2,000 mile distance cycle route bet-ween all 42 of England’s Anglican Cathedrals. The group was made up of a wide range of people including the Bishop of Swindon and Simon Cutler, who had come up with the idea of cycling the entire 2,000 miles. Each Cathedral had asked for cyclists from the staff and Cathedral volunteers to join Shaun on one or two legs in the vicinity of their Cathedral.
My husband Alan and I are volunteer Guides at Christ Church, and he decided to take part in the Oxford to Gloucester leg of 54 miles, as he felt he was capable of doing this distance. Two other volunteers from the Cathedral staff also came forward and Christ Church arranged an impressive welcoming support group. So, on the 30th June at 8.00 am, after attending Eucharist in the Cathedral, our team was waved off from Tom Gate (I accompanied them on my bike to the outer limits of the city). I then doubled back to collect the car and catch up with them to act as back up if necessary! En route to Gloucester I met up with them at Northleach for lunch , a very attractive Cotswold village worth visiting. My challenge was to drive to Gloucester (I had never been there before and it is a big city!) find my way to the Cathedral to meet the group and provide the transport for the return to Oxford. We were all given a warm welcome by the Gloucester Cathedral Staff and the provided refreshments were very welcome. The relay ride transports a specially commissioned baton depicting two hands joined together, made of bronze, which the cyclists take in turns to carry, and it resides in each Cathedral overnight. The baton was designed to illustrate that “Some days you need a hand and other days you are called to lend a hand”.
We enjoyed our involvement in this new venture immensely, particularly meeting participants from all walks of life who had various reasons for taking part. All the Cathedrals had a specially designed Candle to light on the team’s arrival. At Christ Church we were able to attend Evensong and appreciate the choristers voices leading the worship, a fitting start to the bike ride through beautiful countryside. Alan writes that he enjoyed travelling through new countryside after spending lockdown on local rides and that the route to Gloucester is classified as ‘regular’ difficulty rating and could be tried with teenage children. He does have an electric motor fitted to his Brompton which he did use on some of the hills but he still had enough power left if he had wished to cycle back to Oxford.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University and is designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between Cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental well-being activities. The route winds its way around the country, taking in history and natural beauty at each leg of the journey. The days range from panoramic hill views, lakes, river and canal rides to quiet country back lanes and bustling cities. Which ever way you complete this route you will be awarded a sticker/stamp for that leg by the Cathedral on your arrival. A coveted Cathedral Cycle Route (CCR) medal is planned to be available for all those who complete the full 42 Cathedrals route. Cyclists are not expected to ride all 42 Cathedrals in one go, although 42 Cathedrals in 42 days relay challenge is planned to become an annual event! Shaun Cutler did complete the route in 42 days and arrived back in Newcastle to a fantastic welcome at the Cathedral with all the bells ringing!
Due to the pandemic the route has had a soft opening this year with plans for a grander opening in 2022. The idea is that you Cycle with a Purpose and arrange sponsorship for your chosen charity. Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, this is a way to support people’s mental and physical health and promote the mission England’s Cathedrals through pilgrimage, well being and heritage. Should you wish to find out more visit www.cyclinguk.org/cathedrals-cycle-route-challenge
As a church, we, at Hughenden have supported One Can for many years now but as some of you may have read in a recent Guardian article about food insecurity, the number of people in our area going hungry is escalating shockingly:
“Roughly one in seven households in the Wycombe district of Buckinghamshire, among England’s most prosperous areas, went hungry during the last lockdown, while one in three struggled to access food.”
Guardian : 1st Aug 2021
One Can was mentioned in the article in terms of their work and the Chair, Graham Peart was interviewed. There is, therefore, a huge need for our continued support and it is so appreciated.
Our Harvest Festival service this year will take place on Sunday 3rd October. If you are able to donate anything it will be very gratefully received. All donations will go to One Can. Please also remember One Can and those affected by food insecurity in your prayers.
Mission Support Group
Since 2011, One Can Trust has operated a foodbank based in High Wycombe, serving the town and South Buckinghamshire – up to Princes Risborough and out to Beaconsfield.
It all started with some cans in a cupboard in a home garage. A small group of people saw a growing need for organised emergency food aid in High Wycombe and started trying to help.
When the lockdown was introduced, our operation had to change overnight – we lost 80% of our work force (volunteers) due to age and vulnerability, all our hubs had to close, and the struggle for donations was at its peak due to panic buying.
Since March 2020, we have home delivered every parcel to clients – this has meant recruiting a team of volunteer drivers and packing went from just twice a week to 5 times a week.
Then, with work force numbers low, many furloughed individuals stepped up help at One Can Trust.
How did we get donations? This is when our Street Hero campaign was born, individuals in our community set up a donation box on their front lawn and doorsteps and asked their neighbours for donation of food. 90% of the food we supply to our clients is generated by our incredible army of Street Heroes. In the months following lockdown, and particularly the month of March 2021, we were supporting some worryingly high numbers; around 674 per week.
This year and now lockdown has eased we have seen a reduction in our number of clients but it is still at a much higher level that pre-Covid.
Figures for the first week of August were:
In the week to 6th August 2021, we supported 381 people, 151 of which were children (40%). The previous week we supported 402 people and 42% were children.
In the week to 6th August 2021, parcels were delivered to 182 homes.
In March 2020, pre-COVID, the average number of people we were supporting was 225 per week.
We are currently still supporting 69% more people compared with pre-COVID times. In other terms, we are supporting 1.69 times more people than we were.
We still need help and support from the local community as every day we are receiving new referrals. We expect the numbers to rise again once the furlough scheme ends and the Universal Credit payments are reduced.
We are currently preparing for Harvest and this is where we ask local churches, groups and individuals to consider donating their Harvest collections to us so we can distribute them to our clients around the local area. We find this is a busy time and it ensures that we can stock our shelves and prepare for the lead up to Christmas and the winter months.
Can you help in some way? Would you consider being a street hero? Do contact the office with if you would like to get involved. Office Number: 01494 512277.
(in priority order)
Tinned ham, corned beef
Tinned mixed veg
Jams & spreads
Shampoo and shower gel
Nappies (size 6 only)
Dog and cat food (quite a few clients request food for their pets)
So there was I, naked of course, and without my specs, happily having a shower, when out of the corner of my eye (and my eyes are still moderately good even without glasses) I saw the wasp! Wasps ring my alarm bells when I’m clothed, but now naked! The wasp was crawling, (thankfully not flying), at the other end of the bath, but definitely heading in my direction!
Now it may be that God loves all creatures great and small, but my love was running on empty. Several plans ran instantly through my mind: swoosh of warm water, but that might just anger it; squirt of shampoo, but I’d have to get too close; reach for a flannel, or a shoe, or any weapon, but I’d have to stride over the wasp; shout for help? Don’t be a wimp! The final treatment was too gory for these hallowed pages, so just use your imagination!
I’m sure few people appreciate wasps, yet they are supposed to be “voracious and ecologically important predators of insect pests on our crops”, and “do useful pollinating as they sip flower nectar”. If you look online there are hundreds of questions and answers and opinions and bits of advice about wasps, including keeping some as pets, because they can recognise human faces and will know you as their friendly keeper! Please keep a large pinch of salt handy when reading all this! At least they’re not a protected species!
Another flying creature also evokes mixed reactions: the bat. By the time you read this Outlook, our Bat Walk will have come and gone. On 29th August we’ll be walking around the churchyard and up to the Manor and down to the stream, staring intently at the darkening evening sky to catch glimpses of local bats, but we’ll also have the advantage of bat detectors: electronic gadgets converting the bats’ inaudible high frequency squeaks into audible beeps. The pattern of beeps and their pitch are characteristic of each bat species, for example the Common Pipistrelle gives a long string of short beeps, whereas the Soprano Pipistrelle (surprise, surprise!) gives a similar pattern but sings noticeably higher. And the Brown Long-Eared has big ears and does more listening than squeaking. (We could all learn a lesson from that one!)
folklore is full of tales of horror and evil concerning bats
Bats are protected species in UK. You can’t hunt them, kill them or disturb them. All 18 species of UK bats are fairly harmless: they just eat insects. Yet folklore is full of tales of horror and evil concerning bats. And many people dislike anything that flies or flaps too near their faces, and even worse in the dark. Years ago a young one flew into our living room, did several laps round and then hung on the cur-tains for a rest. It was quite content for me to hold it and stroke the fur on its back. I took it outside and it flew off.
Our Bat Walk found some people enthusiastic to come and learn more about bats, but there were several who definitely didn’t fancy the idea at all.
Maybe it’s the strangeness of a mammal which can fly, but has fur and no feathers. Indeed it can fly in the dark without crashing, sleeps upside down, and doesn’t have the prettiest of faces.
The bible mentions bats only briefly. They were regarded as unclean and should not be eaten. Personally I wouldn’t fancy eating bat, but in some parts of the world (perhaps where they have bigger bats?) bats are regularly on their menu. In Covid times we’ve learned that bats were available in the markets of Wuhan, and the likelihood is that our coronavirus has evolved from viruses in bats (or maybe other animals). That doesn’t help the reputation of our local bats even if it was nothing to do with them.
But going back to the intruder in my shower, it’s a pity that wasps hide in their nests all night. I’m sure they’d add a bit of spice to a bat’s diet.
We would like to thank everyone for their love and support, expressed so well in the lovely cards we received for our wedding day on the 4th July.
The Covid restrictions made it impossible for everyone to join us in church. However, it was wonderful to know that so many of you were following the service on YouTube, as we made our vows to each other. It was a wonderful service. The theme in the first reading was expressed so perfectly in the delightful poem that Jane Tyrer has written for us. Thank you very much Jane.
Thank also to the everyone who in some way contributed to the success of our wonderful day and the start of our married life together.
Jan and Alan Jaycock
Wintershall is an estate in Surrey which has been transformed into an open-air performance area which produces Christian plays each year including The Nativity of Jesus. They also perform The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square on Good Friday. The performances began in 1989 in a barn and now Wintershall produces plays with a cast of hundreds, plus horses, sheep and donkeys and they have been seen by tens of thousands.
This year instead of the usual Life of Christ from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm moving around four locations and with hundreds in the audience it was a 10.00 am to 12.30 pm performance with five locations and groups of 30 moving to each location.
My group had members of all ages with several children, the youngest being four. A requirement was that people were able to walk uphill on uneven ground and stand for up to two hours. However, there were many tree stumps and hay bales to sit on. We had a walking guide to start us off and were soon joined by one of the Apostles – ours being Simon Peter. Simon Peter journeyed with us as we watched, wondered and responded to some of the amazing stories Jesus told. He told us how he came to join Christ and his life with Him.
The five parables were: The Sower (Matthew 13:1-9), The Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 1-7), The Ten Bridesmaids (Matthew 25: 1-13), The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). After each play there was a walk to a reflection area. We were given a booklet with aids for reflection and activities. These were suitable for all ages and every child in my group concentrated for the whole two hours. A picnic followed.
During the week over 1,000 school children and adults had attended. Hopefully Walking the Parables will continue as one of the regular performances at Wintershall alongside The Nativity and The Life of Christ.
If you ever choose to read the Sunday Times, you might be familiar with the columnist India Knight (once expelled from Wycombe Abbey School, but that is irrelevant). Sounds fun to me to be allowed to write about what ever you wish, as she does, often in a very opinionated manner. Or, maybe not, there would of course be deadlines. Douglas Adams, he of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, said “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” Anyway, during the last year, columnists were obviously asked to finish their article by saying what they had watched that week and what they had read. One Sunday she said that if you had not read the Norfolk Mysteries by Elly Griffiths, then you were very fortunate and were in for a treat.
Looking up details of this author I found that there were 10 books and they were available as a set for £30, thus very cheaply. However, maybe I wouldn’t like them so it didn’t seem sensible to buy the whole lot in one go. I was wrong! I loved them and bought them in ones and twos and of course paid a great deal more for them. Maybe if she recommends anything else I will trust her taste in books next time.
The Crossing Places (The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 1) - Elly Griffiths
Elly Griffiths (real name Domenica da Rosa, which actually sounds more like a nom de plume) knows Norfolk well and is of course one of many who have fallen under the spell of that flat, sometimes rather bleak, English county, J.M. Dalgliesh and Ian Sansom for example. These Norfolk mysteries are detective stories with the added interest of some forensic archaeology. However, the reason I binge read 10 books was the main character called Ruth Galloway. Ruth Galloway is achingly well written and her personality is beautifully crafted. You truly feel as if you are getting to know her as a person and I very quickly really cared about her and what was happening in her life.
Ruth lives in a very isolated situation on the margins of a salt marsh. Apart from being powerful poetically, this coastal scenery also acts as a metaphor maybe, because Ruth is someone who isn’t quite sure where she fits in, or indeed whether she even wants to fit in. She is often on the edge of groups and friendships and even of the relationship that she has with Harry the detective. This complicated liaison meanders through the whole series of books. At times this is satisfying and at others infuriating but it is always endearing and covers the whole range of emotions within the human condition. Here is the salt marsh:
“Everything is pale and washed out, grey-green merging to grey-white as the marsh meets the sky. Far off is the sea, a line of darker grey, seagulls riding on the waves. It is utterly desolate and Ruth has absolutely no idea why she loves it so much.”
For me this description brings to mind the coast a little further south in Suffolk, Benjamin Britten land and his setting for Peter Grimes. The writing conjures the sound of the wind in the reeds and the sea soughing and sucking.
I loved these books and will await the next one which is pre-ordered and due to drop onto my doormat in mid August.
And there is more! Elly Griffiths also has a shorter series called the Brighton mysteries. No forensic archaeology here but a 1950s setting with the lead being taken by a detective who was studying at Oxford when he was called up in the Second World War and couldn’t quite find the will to return to his studies afterwards. He joined the police force instead and is regarded with some suspicion by those who feel slightly threatened by his university background … even if he didn’t complete his degree.
The Zig Zag Girl (The Brighton Mysteries 1) - Elly Griffiths
Elly Griffiths very competently draws us a picture of post war Brighton. It is grey, despondent, lacking in confidence and poor. There is still rationing and the war and war time memories loom large in people’s minds. She obviously did plenty of research on local history and geography (she does live in Brighton) and there were no apparent glaring errors that upset the story but sometimes the use of language jarred a little. The author is too young to have experienced the 1950s and occasionally I found myself thinking: no, nobody would have used that phrase back then. However, this did not really detract from the narrative as I find the way language changes and ebbs and flows with time quite fascinating.
But, it is Ruth that I commend to you. She is such a very entertaining read.
P.S. Also, writing under her real name, Domenica da Rosa, the author has written several romances with an Italian setting. I haven’t though sampled any of them.
And, those of you who have discovered Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler, the next novel is due out in October. I think I may just have time to gallop through the 10 books again in preparation for the new read!
This is another recipe from my favourite Chef Ottolenghi and is a lovely moist summer cake when there is fresh fruit around. It works well with apricots when in season which are so delicious with almonds, but can also be made with peaches or plums.
One of the secrets in making good cakes (for those who are new to cooking), is to make sure that you use the correct weighed ingredients, it should never be guess work! It doesn’t mean that you cannot substitute ingredients but you need to know what will work. For example this recipe uses soured cream, but if you haven’t got soured cream add a teaspoon of lemon juice to double cream. The topping can looks quite uneven but adds to the cake’s rustic charm.
85g unsalted butter at room temperature
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon (3/4 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
220g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
160g soured cream
35g ground almonds
8 large apricots halved and stoned (can use 20 tinned apricots)
60g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp salt
2 large eggs lightly beaten
To make the topping: melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine then remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, stir through the beaten eggs and set aside.
Preheat oven to 195∘C, 175∘C fan, gas mark 5. Grease a 23cm round springform tin lined with baking parchment. Put it in the oven for 15–20 minutes or until firm.
To make the cake: Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and almond essence and combine.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and add slowly to the mixture alternating with the soured cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix to combine then scrape into the tin and sprinkle the ground almonds over the top.
Arrange the apricot halves on top, cut side facing up then spoon the cinnamon topping over and around the apricots.
Bake for about 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean (although the topping can be a bit sticky). Set aside 20 mins in the tin to cool before removing, serve warm with cream. Can be kept about 3 days in an airtight tin or frozen.
I was interested to read the article by Jane Tyrer in the July/August issue of Outlook and I thought that readers might like to know a little more about that good lady.
For many years in the parish of Hughenden there was a charity known as the Lady Conyngham Charity for Poor Persons, the aim of which was to provide financial help to parishioners who may have been passing through difficult times. It also stipulated that the verger of the day should be the recipient of an annual amount.
I was once reading through the minutes of some of the meetings of the Trustees and there was one instance when a parishioner was awarded the sum of three shillings (15 pence in today’s money) to help to buy some coal for the fire. It may sound a petty amount today but at that time it was probably considered a large amount. Also, the minutes stated that the cottages were to be modernised by the installation of coppers, which would have been a great help to the ladies on washing day.
During the time that I was Churchwarden, I was also one of the trustees of the charity and every year, round about Christmas, we would meet to decide whether there were any parishioners who would appreciate a little financial help. This was a very difficult task.
With most elderly people in receipt of a pension or still receiving a working wage, coupled with the fact that the interest from the invested sum was so small, it was decided to wind up the charity, which was done with the approval of the Charity Commissioners.
Jane Tyrer’s previous article on the Countess of Conyngham can be found here.
Dear Friends, so here we are then, with the year on the turn once more. I always notice sometime before the schools return, that the air changes and I can hear Ruby and her friends as they play outside. Their voices start to echo a little and I can smell the blackberries waiting to be picked in the lanes.
And so autumn comes. Some say it is their favourite season, while others ready themselves for the winter chill. Best to take each day as it comes I say and there can be some truly beautiful ones in September. Enjoy the sun on your face.
I hope this summer has been a little kinder to you than last year, my dears. Lots of my friends have found great pleasure in their own gardens and in becoming more familiar with the walks and countryside just steps away from their house. Sometimes we miss what is right under our noses don’t we, particularly when we are tempted by sights and pleasures further away. I have glorious countryside around me (you get used to the rain, really!) and I know you do too. We won’t be getting on a plane anytime yet. I tell you, MacGregor never gets on a plane but I’ve been overseas with my daughter and little Ruby. Very exciting … but wearing. MacGregor says that if we were meant to fly then God would have given us wings.
Take care and enjoy all that September has to offer,
Net ponds to avoid leaves clogging them up, particularly of course if your pond is under a tree.
Now is a good time to rake, aerate and if necessary reseed your lawn.
Enjoy harvesting your autumn fruit crop and remember to save some for later, whether it is by freezing, bottling or pickling.
Deadhead roses, as some will happily flower on into late autumn, especially in the softer south where you are.
Plant spring bulbs (always looking ahead aren’t we as gardeners?) but leave tulips till the later months of the year.
Take cuttings. Gardeners’ World often shows you how easy this is. And, now is a good time to divide clumps of perennials. You don’t have to be too precious about this, a garden spade or a good knife will work well for you.
Elections Clare Godfrey was elected as Lay Chair, Brian Morley as Treasurer, Susan Brice was elected as PCC Secretary, and Arthur Johnson as Electoral Roll Officer and Assistant Treasurer.
Standing Committee will comprise Keith Johnson, Julia Grant, Frank Hawkins, Christopher Tyrer, Brian Morley and Ben Sharp.
PCC Meetings for Next Year:
16th September 2021
16th November 2021
20th January 2022
8th March 2022
APCM on Sunday 27th March 2022
5th May 2022
PCC Policies Review Plan:
Mike Hill will review the Complaints and Whistle Blowing Policy.
Antony Rippon, with Andrew Collard, will review the Health and Safety Policy.
Christopher Tyrer will review the Environment Policy.
Helen Peters will review the Conflict-of-Interest Policy.
Keith Johnson and Roger Grant will review the Safeguarding Policy.
Brian Morley, with Mike Morgan, will review the Finance Policy.
TJ will shadow the reviewing of the Health and Safety Policy.
Julia Grant and Antony Rippon will review the contents of the first aid boxes.
Treasurer’s Report Brian told the committee that the Church had received a legacy of £12,700 from the estate of Michael Noakes and that a letter of thanks had been sent.
Vicar’s Matters The Vicar commented that TJ needs to do a project as part of her training. TJ said that her idea would fit in with the vision of St Michael and All Angels and it would aim to engage with the community. A link would be made with the national initiative where people arrive as visitors and leave as pilgrims. There is the possibility of welcoming walking groups and hosting daytime retreats.
Bex Hawes has given 3 months notice. She has worked with us for 9 years and we need to ensure that she leaves well.
Churchwardens Matters Frank thanked all those who look after the churchyard and particularly those on the mowing rota.
Mission Support Group recommended the charities for our Christmas giving, which PCC approved:
Local: One Can Trust
Well, here we are almost back to normal whatever that may be these days.
We had our first coffee morning at the beginning of August which was much enjoyed by quite a few visitors. As usual delicious coffee and tea and homemade cake etc. were in abundance. Also, there was a produce table with homemade marmalade, chutney, cheese scones, cakes and elder flower cordial for sale.
The wonderful sum of £177 was raised for MU hospital project providing emergency toiletries for parents and families at Ronald McDonald house which is part of John Radcliffe Hospital for Children. Many thanks to all who supported and donated.
On Tuesday 7th September we have our first meeting at 2.00 pm with a speaker: Maureen Weston President of Oxford MU. Everyone is welcome and you do not have to be a member. You will be most welcome. We do, however, understand that some people may still be wary about mixing.
We hope you all enjoyed a reasonable summer now that we have a bit more freedom.
Mothers' Union Committee
Outlook is published 10 times a year and contains information about our church services and activities, local events, news from the vicarage, pages for children plus a variety of articles sent in by individuals ranging from wildlife, cookery, poems, thoughts, humour and observations about this and that – in fact there is a mixture of the spiritual and secular which is right and appropriate, all being part of God’s world.
‘Outlook’ goes to many homes where sermons do not, so it is to be hoped that as well as being informative and entertaining it will always show something of God’s love and compassion, forever constant in this rapidly changing world.
It has been remarked that the magazine reflects the loving relationship that exists in our congregations, and we do so warmly welcome you to share in this.
The magazine can always be found on the shelves to the left of the font. Please do pick one up every month as it will contain all the up to date information you need as well as useful telephone numbers and administrative information.
The magazine is published monthly, except for August and January. Articles for the magazine can be sent to email@example.com. The deadline is the 15th of the month. If you would like one delivered then please contact Andrew Cole.
Magazine Distribution & Delivery