Thursday, 28 August 2008

Wee Meme Too.

I have been nominated to fill you in on my recollections of these 5 eventful event and their impact on my life.

Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997
This was the day after we had travelled home from a fab week in Wales with our good buddies Keith and Fiona Starling.Joe was and Mark were 3, Hannah was 7. I can't recall why I put the TV on that morning, but I did and just sat and gawped at the news. Keith was still in bed, so I shouted up to him and we both gawped. That day was the dedication of our friends Helen and John's baby Luke, so we had a lovely buffet lunch at their house and the talk was all about Diana.

Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990
To my shame, I can't rememeber the shenanegins surrounding this - We had moved into our house that year and were in the process of some rather massive renovation, living upstairs for about 18 months and I became quite ill at one point - this might have happened then - who knows?

Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001
I was just going out to get the children from school when the programme I was watching - some trashy chat show - was interrupted with this news. Another gawping in front of the TV moment. All the talk in the play ground was about the crash - at the time it was not known that terrorists were involved and it all began to unfold once we got home, but I had to wait for kids tv to finish before I could catch up!

England's World Cup semi final v Germany - 4 July 1990
This was the Saturday that the Romford Youth were involved in the Territorial Congress doing Drama, under the tutilage of Stuart Grinstead. So, as we were still in The Youth then, we all piled round to Keith and Fiona's afterwards to watch it on their tele - wasn't it the one where Gazza cried and... we lost. I recall Fiona being rather taken by Lothar Matteus ( SP??)

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963
No idea - wasn't even a twinkle in my dad's eye till the January of 1964 - WHAT a year that was!

I nominate
Rich Borrett
Ann Borrett
My Bro Jon - if he's still bloggin that is.
Serena Hostler

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


So, there are always a few raised eyebrows when I tell people we have been camping. Some people actually look sympathetic as if it's a bad thing, others just laugh out loud or wrinkle noses in distaste.

I can appreciate that it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think camping has really bad press and so while we were away I tried to analyse what the good and bad things are and how, for us at least, the benefits far outway the inconvieniences.

First off, we generally book at a site that has superb reviews and great facilities - one year the Convienience Block ( Loos Showers Laundry etc) had a sauna and steam room!

Yes, you have to to walk to the Loo and yes, it can be annoying at night, particularly if one of the kids needs to go and it's raining and wellies and kagools have to be put on instead of your normal toweling dressing gown.This year the facilites were impecable - the cleaners were the most diligent I have ever met ( bar my mum). Ok, so the showers failed towards the end of the second week and that was just bad luck for us and the site owners , but we stayed clean and fresh smelling none the less.

Zips : can be annoying and there are loads on our tent, so there's a kind of zip symphony played as people go in and out, especially as we were battling wasps - but our tent has insect nets, so we won, most of the time.
The Weather : it rained lots this year and that can be noisy in a tent, but we were warm and dry when inside, which wasn't often as we went out everyday - part of the plan. However, when the weather is good, most things happen outside and that's lovely.

Food - well, we have a hob and grill and rustled up some magnificents feasts and barbequed too - not as much as we would have liked, cos of the weather though.
We never take any media tech with us - TV,Laptop etc, although we do have 'Electric Hook Up', so can charge up phones and DS's, have light at the flick of a switch, have a small fridge, use a hairdryer and have an electric kettle for that urgent cuppa. We nearly bought a cheap toaster this year, but Joe felt we would be selling out too much if we did, so we didn't!

Sleeping on the floor was never something I looked forward to and in our old tent, we were on a raised platform, but I was pleasantly surprised but how ok it was. Air beds are quite comfy and Keith and I use out normal bedding rather than sleeping bags, althought the kids sleep in bags. We have our own 'pods' to sleep in, so everyone has a place they can call their own and retreat to it as and when.

We live from day to day which is cool, and contrived this year to drive past Tescos every day on the way home from places to stock up for tea and breakfast.

So that's the mechanics of it and yes, sometimes you have to be very resourceful and sometimes it can be frustrating.

The benefits for us though are:

  • the simplicity of life - life at home is so complex
  • the 'being together' - having time to feedback to each other, playing games that we never play in normal life ( cards, Bananagrams etc). This really is the main thing for me. I appreciate holiday time is when everything gets easier and you could relive this experience in a cottage or a house, but there's a lovely intimacy to camping.
  • The fresh air !
  • The lack of pretentions all around - you can't hide much when all that separates you from the people next door is 6 metres of air and 2 nanometers of fabric

So, that's my case for camping and while some of you readers might know totally where I'm coming from, others might never understand, but that's fine - carry on camping, that's what I say!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Clogwyn Station - Platform 9 and 3/4

Oh- er Big Hair! Anyway, here's one of the many pics we took on out recent holiday to North Wales - just about to set off on one of the shortest walks in the world, but made up for it in the afternoon by plodding around 6 acres of the most amazing garden and woodland at Glynlliffon , see below and well worth a visit - lovely!
Oh, and here's our new tent - love it!

We visited Canearfon, Harlech and Conwy Castles, went to the beach, walked, cycled a 16 mile round trip from Dolgellau to Barmouth to Dolgellau, spent a fab afternoon on a high ropes course, the grand finale of which was a 3G swing - Thomas's understatement was, 'That was emotional', saw lots of sheep and climbed Snowdon - well, we walked up the 'easy route'

At Halfway house, we had a picnic and purchased some Kendal Mint Cake for a treat when we reached the summit.

Helicopters were buzzing the trail the whole time as they carried stones from the bottom to various places along the path that needed some attention. We had originally thought it was for the Summit Centre, but were told NO - there's no work going on up there at the moment!

We carried on to Clogwyn Station - the final waypoint before the top, when I spectacularly hit the wall with about a mile to go to the summit. Would I have continued if it hadn't been Clogwyn 'Station' ( a misnomer if there ever was one - ok the train stopped there, but it wasn't like any station I've ever been to) - I don't know, but stop I did, got very emotional and sat down on a rock having waved my family off into the thick swirling mists of the summit to wait, like Gellert's dog, for their return.

( The following contains a massive 'spoiler' from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so don't read on if you still want to read this book)

We had walked most of the way in t-shirts, but had carried plenty of layers to pile on, so I started by putting my thin sweat shirt on and began to take in my surroundings.

The train was in, but was just a shadow in the mist, as were the few people that were lingering near the train waiting to get back on, for it to descend back down to Llanberis. I could just make out a little hut and the track as it disappeared off to the summit, but visibility was poor and I suddenly felt very like Harry at the end of the book, where he meets with Dumbledore in a misty place reminiscent of Kings Cross Station, but not...if you know what I mean.

It felt as if the world stopped where my visibilty failed, and it was especially unnerving as there appeared to be a steep drop opposite me in the other side of the track. My eyes were almost watering with trying to see the track up to the summit and I was thinking that I wanted to go and catch up with my family, but I couldn't move - scary!

So there I was and to all intents it seemed, invisible to anyone else. Another train came along, disengorging it's passengers and the first disappeared down into the mist.

The passengers were mostly inappropriately dressed for where they were, and I guess as they hadn't walked up, were fairly disappointed with the terminus of their journey. The most imaginative comment was from a small boy who exclaimed that it was like being on the moon, ( which it REALLY was) but most others were moaning that there was nothing to see or do and what did 'they expect us to do for half and hour?'

I was cross really, and had bad thoughts about them all being freeloaders and wanted to laugh as they all wandered aimlessly in various directi0ns and vanishing into the mists to find...what? A gift shop, somewhere for coffee? Who knows. I had a vague memory of reading the Pilgrims Progress and thinking that there was a part where Pilgrim was tempted to wander off the beaten track to get totally lost. Would they return in time for the train, or were some going to attempt to walk down in Crocs, wedges, an assortment of flip flops? Who knew and who cared? Not me, I had walked there, earned my place on that rock and my family were currently showing Snowdow some respect - hah!

I put my thick sweatshirt on at that point and the cold began to seep in and with it a whole bunch of fears - stupid ones, but fears none the less. Having said that we had more signal on our phones than we had all holiday, so I could easily get in touch with Keith, but what if it started to rain, what if the last train had been and gone, what if I wasn't able to walk down the mountain....what if?

I eventually put my kagool on and began to wonder how the guys were doing, so text a message to say I was getting cold, so could they please run - they had been gone about 40 minutes at this point and how I began to wish I had gone with them!

Turns out the Kendal Mint Cake was in the bag they had left with me, so Keith phoned to say they has arrived and would be down soon, and I could eat some Mint Cake. You know, that stuff really works. It was the first time that I can recall of being aware that food is FUEL, not just for pleasure and could feel that sugar buzz generate some real heat and I stood up - yeay!!

Trains came and went and at one point a guard came over to make sure I didn't want to get on one and eventually the brave heros appeared through the mist. GREAT.Here's a pic of them at the top.

A group of people DID miss their train, but we managed to get 5 seats on one and began the slow descent. JOe was sad that we weren't walking down, but it was felt that a 7pm eta was not acceptable - however the train journey was awful. 3 of us were BUSTING and a baby was crying the whole time. Cries of ' Look at the lovely waterfall' were not helpful at all!

Anyway, the plan is that we return one day and try one of the other routes up - I will need to get into training and stick with my new found ethos of Food for Fuel, not for Pleasure.

So, the Halls are home and now have a new baby kite to care for -

Friday, 8 August 2008

This is my Mum.

She's going to be 70 on Sunday and I can't believe it. Neither can she to be honest.
My dad is not prepared to comment!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Well, waddya know!

I have been visiting Summer Holiday Clubs over the last couple of weeks and have to say that I have witnessed some great and good practise, fab teaching, groovy dancing, LOUD shouting and stacks of fun. I have been really encouraged that folks are actually taking time out of their own holidays to ensure that kids get to find out about Jesus, that Church is a cool place and that people really care about what they ( the kids) think - YEAY!

Today was a bit of a milestone for one Corps who launched their Children's Ministry on the back of their Holiday Club last year, and this year, 25 kids arrived on the first day to learn about the Super Star children in the bible - DOUBLE YEAY!

I also spent some time with a friend who has been on a journey in every sence of the word, has made a pretty cool decision to continue on that journey and who I was able to chat with as an equal, if not the subordinate sometimes, in many ways - the YEAY GOES ON!

Finally, I popped into Tesco on the way home and bought, amongst other things, a bag of caramel coated sesame seed covered peanuts....JUST TO LOOK AT....and was checking out the pack for clues as to the the calorie content. There was no mention, so I am assuming they are calorie free(!) however, and I'm sure many of you have experienced this, but it's my first time, I was warned in NO uncertain terms that the product MIGHT contain traces of nut.

I really needed to know that more than the calorie content.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Juggling, Waiting and Praying.

Just an initial though - why is it that even when you....OK, I... get 999 things right, so that life runs smoothly and effectively, people will only notice the 1000th thing that trips you....OK, ME... up.

A second thought is - get a cuppa as this is a long old story, but hopefully entertaining!

This week as been a lesson in juggling - time , free time, kids time, work time, sleep time ( don't ever even think it's good to catch up on sleep when driving because it's not, and more to the point, don't ever try it) time to talk, time to dance, time to breath and have a chat...Ecclesiastes has a list. The funniest ( ie most frustrating) thing is trying to do two things that don't go well together, together i.e take Elyse and Thomas to work!

Ok, it was Kids Clubs and they can join in and the folks running them are kind and say the kids are great etc, but it feels odd for ME.

I also actually did try to learn to juggle hoops yesterday, and the concept is pretty different to juggling balls and also kids kept wanting to have a go too, which was ....annoying!

What is hard is being able to switch off when you can't quite finish what you've started because someone needs the loo or has spilled a drink etc and somehow, you...OK I...can handle it if it's someone elses child, but when it's mine it's just like being at home and I wonder why I have driven to Brightlingsea, Clacton or Colchester to do more of the same. Am I wrong? I feel wrong, but I know what I mean.

Anyway, I'm not the only person in the world doing this, so hats off to mums who work through the holidays - hurrah!

Our walk was great last weekend, but those of us who couldn't/wouldn't do the 17 miles extra had to find something else to do while the others did the walking. It was the most scorching day ever, so after a bit of time in a playground, we took the kids back to our lodgings to freshen up and go meet some more of the Mighty Fox Family, of which we are now Honorary Members, for a limited period of time.To be official you have to marry someone in the family and we can't really do that...although Elyse was getting on quite well with Nathan..hmmmm!

We spent a delightful afternoon siezing up in another playground by a stream and looking out onto the Peaks where our loved ones were being mercilessly burned to a crisp while singing Ilkley Moor no doubt, and where Jenny was driving up and down with supplies, to meet the walkers at pre arranged stop offs. Irritatingly, the signal was awful for mobiles, so there were some anxious moments when we really didn't know where anyone was, but ironically Zoe could get through from Zambia!

It didn't feel like waiting, because the company and the scenery and the weather were fab and I didn't worry that much either - which is amazing ( see praying)

What did feel like waiting though, because it was, was sitting in the most boring waiting room IN THE WORLD for Joe's name to be called to get his lacerated knee stitched up at the Hospital last night. I have blogged about waiting with people who have lost the will to live before, and I guess that the reason the folks were in this particular waiting room was that they were feeling poorly, but COME ON, it doesn't hurt to smile, does it? Obviously, it does!

Queens Hospital is by far and away the most confusing place I have ever been and when you ...OK, I... am a little stressed and all the instructions look like they are in Chinese and Thomas needs the loo and is STILL going on about the ice cream he dropped at the beach 2 hours ago and, Joe's shock has worn off and he's feeling pretty grumpy, and rightly so really, and Elyse is worryingly quiet, a decent waiting room isn't much to ask is it? Obviously, it is!

What added insult to the rather nasty injury was that we had given Joe's name TWICE at reception, but when Keith arrived, the receptionist swore blind that we weren't there, leaving him in a mild state of concern as the last time we had spoken, I was 20 mins off leaving Clacton, and the battery on my phone was running out, and working it all out using math, we SHOULD have been at the hospital...which we were, so the math was good - the receptionst was NOT.

I have also blogged before about an incident where I voiced a need - indoor plastic hockey sticks- and the need was met almost immediately. I recall praising God like mad about that because it was so cool.
My concern was and still is that I wasn't praying about it officially i.e. Dear God what I could really do with are .... Amen' but am convinced by the words in Psalm 139 that God did deserve the praise for that and here are two other examples of what you might call lazy praying, but the outcomes being absolutely worthy of praise.

Number One
The lodgings I spoke of earlier were in Pindale Outdoor centre and were utterly random, but fun. Jen and Den had also bought their tent, so as it was so sweltering, we stayed outdoors with them for as long as we could on the two evenings and shared breakfast on the Sunday. A number of families were camping as a Geocaching Event was taking place ( just google Geocaching, I'm not going into it here) and one family had decided that it would be convienient for them to park their massive 4x4 in a passing bay, thereby causing 'a bit of an obstruction' in the road.

Jen and Den had planted their tent at the top of a hillock over looking this family and SO the following day when it transpired that someone had let this guys tyres down, wrapped the vehicle in red tape and placed a parking cone on the bonnet, we had an ideal view ( this isn't the answer to prayer by the way - and NO it wasn't us) to see how it was all going to pan out.

I am ashamed to say that initially, we were all of the mind that it served him right. However, as time went on, and the jack had slipped causing the side of the car to scrape down the wall, we did begin feel a little uneasy, not least that we were more or less ready to go and would need to squeeze past him to get on our way. I began to wonder out loud where all the grace in the world had gone and then suggested that maybe we should pray, and possibly offer some assistance ( goody two shoes!) I then needed the loo, but Den's brother did go over to suggest a better place to put the jack 'avoiding the diff'.

On my return, I was greeted with - 'Your Prayer worked Liz!'

It just so happened that the Land Rover Club of Great Britain were having a drive out that morning past the Pindale Outdoor Centre and had every gadget this guy could need to jack the car up, crowbar the tyres back on and inflate them. Not just one Land Rover, but about 10 of them!! Lavish and Extravagant God - Bless You!!

I did own up to not actually praying the prayer in the formal way, but hey - the needs of a number of people were met that morning.

Number Two
And finally, I dropped the children off at my mum and dad's today and my dad who is a diligent War Cry ( Salvation Army newspaper) seller enquired whether DHQ, where I work, get a pile of War Crys delivered ,as our Corps order hadn't turned up ( this is a bit jargony , sorry!)

No, was the answer, because it is true.....normally!

I arrived at work to find Natasha, one of our Admin. Assistants standing at the door with a massive pile of War Crys ( LOL) asking if I could 'do anything with them, or might anyone I know need them'

Turns out, there was a bit of an 'oportunity'at THQ for things to go wrong this week and Harlow's papers had got caught up with another Corps, but they had ordered more thinking they had been lost ( which must have happened to Romford's too) meaning that when they came to light, they were returned to DHQ

My jaw is actually still in recovery from dropping to the floor.

Did my dad pray about the papers? I don't know.

What I do know is

'God,I am an open book to you; even from a distance you know what I'm thinking.... you know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence'

Psalm 139: 2 +4 The Message

Time to STOP