Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday

The day before!
The day of using up all the rich food ...
The trouble is ... in our affluent society there's rather too much to consume in one day!
However ... the pancakes have been made ... and many of them eaten!
 The electric frying pan works a treat for cooking them ... modern cooker hobs are not designed for the traditional griddle!
The smell of cooking pancakes is such a comforting memory ... we enjoyed them all round the year ... if visitors arrived unexpectedly ... the griddle was warmed and fresh pancakes appeared as if by magic!  The standard baking ingredients of flour, sugar and raising agents as well as eggs were always available, even if bread and sandwich fillings weren't.  For me, pancakes are more a symbol of hospitality than a preparation for Lent ... but I guess they work at both levels.
May you have a good Shrove Tuesday and a profitable Lent.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Is there such a thing ...

... a writer's block?
If it exists ... then I have symptoms.
How hard can it be to put together two and a half minutes of a talk ... just a thought for the day ... but the deadline draws ever closer and only the most random ideas have hit the page!
So, to let the mind relax here are some shots from today ...
A flood in the boiler house ... I helped by taking pictures of the poor men who did all the work!
The trouble is, we don't know where it's coming from ... so the system has had to be closed down until the plumber can have a look.

There seemed to be an awful lot of water ... 
Then I had a while in the church ... having brought "Brasso" with me I spent a happy while putting a bit of a shine on the ewer and alms dishes ... that was in-between talking to eleven visitors!  One of the parishioners devised a new way to display our "Open Church" advertising poster ... and it seems to be working very well!  Ballymena - Galway - Germany ... and some who live more locally all enjoyed the beauty of the sacred space today.
 Polished brass has such a warm glow ... and it is a very satisfying job to do ... especially when it was as tarnished as these items were.  You can certainly see the difference!

 You'd never get tired of taking pictures ... the windows have such magnificent colours and designs and every time you look there's some new feature to consider.  Here, in the Light of the World window, I noticed the crown of thorns for the first time!  What a beautiful symbol in the juxtaposition of the kingly crown and the thorns!
So ... writer's block or not ... it is time to return to the task for this evening ... Thought for the Day ... because Ash Wednesday is coming very close!

Saturday, 1 March 2014


I suppose a meal would taste just the same if the presentation happened to be a bit 'rough and ready' ... but the visual pleasure is part of the experience too, I think.
The art of the chef means that the meal is enjoyed first by the eye and then by the taste buds.  Yesterday's lunch is an example of that.
 A careful balance of colours and textures on a pristine white plate was my meal while one of my friends enjoyed the very dramatic herby chicken served on a board with a 'Midsomer Murder' style skewer!  Both very different in appearance ... both delicious!
 Even at home the breakfast mushrooms were photographed in the early morning sunshine ... though one observant friend thought that I should have had all of them on the toast and removed the stray part from the edge of the plate!  Maybe we watch too many cooking programmes?
Perhaps I'd managed a better job with the previous day's scrambled egg ... though the parsley was applied with more exuberance than skill!
 And that's the conflict ... to present food in a restaurant the exact measured amount of the herb is added ... at home ... when you adore the flavour ... there is no such restraint.
 Food plays a significant part in the WOW experience.  The end of February meeting this week was close enough to Ash Wednesday for us to spend some time thinking about Lent and the preparation for it ... Shrove Tuesday in particular.  As households used up some of the richer, more luxurious ingredients, pancakes are the order of the day.
This recipe comes from a very old Women's Institute Cookery Book ... and never fails!  
 So, after our discussion time we made pancakes!  Almost a week early ... but ... very tasty!
 Just pick your topping and enjoy!
 Choir members who arrived early enough joined us for a little snack too.
 Worship on Wednesday (WOW) is open to all ... so if you're around on the last Wednesday of the month we meet in Saint Nicholas' at 6.30 pm.
Meanwhile ... as Lent approaches ... the annual sacrifice of carry out food looms ... I'd better have one or two Chinese meals over the weekend as there'll be no more until Easter!
So, in the words of the traditional school grace: "For what we have received, may the Lord make us truly thankful.  Amen."

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Well now ...

Between organising Sunday Services, visiting, home communions and planning a Christmas Dinner ... the work of a Parish Priest is certainly varied!
The Christmas Dinner is the traditional Mothers' Union one planned for March ... more of that later.  Meanwhile MU yesterday was an interesting mix of a Quilting Exhibition by one of our own Parishioners and a visit from the Bishop of Kitale and his wife Rael, who is the Mothers' Union International Council Member for part of East Africa.
The quilting is amazing and there are a number of photographs on the parish website on the Photographs page in the Mothers' Union section.

Bishop Stephen and Mama Rael enjoy the variety of quilting techniques shown.
 We had time at the end to sit over a cup of tea and find out more about Kitale Diocese in Northern Kenya ... yet another link for our parish with the Anglican Church in Kenya.

 It was good to welcome some of Connor's Trustees, including our President, Valerie.
 At the end Mollie, the quilter, gave Mama Rael one of the Irish style quilts.
A most enjoyable Mothers' Union gathering.
Meanwhile ... the dog sleeps and eats ... happy as Larry!  (Who was Larry?)
And the fish swim in endless lengths of their tank!
So all is well in Rectory-land ... 

Friday, 14 February 2014


 It's sleep-over time ... and this pair seem to know that some casual begging will bring a treat or two!
The biscuits would have to be attached to the camera in order to get them looking straight into the lens ... neither would take their eyes off the objects of their desire.
However adorable they look in a photograph ... their presence early in the morning when they want to get up (long before daylight has even thought of breaking) isn't always so welcome!  However their determination at that stage is just as focussed and the owner hasn't a chance of another minute, or even half a minute, of sleep!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The end ...

Just the end of the Christmas Cake!
That moment is delayed crumb by crumb ... slices get thinner and thinner ... until eventually it has to finish!  And yesterday was the day that the cake board was cleaned by Eliot (no photographs) and the cake enjoyed by me!
It seems another age, another era, when the cake arrived!  That was at the beginning of December (according to the date on the picture!)
 The chorister is still in the box ... couldn't bear to eat him at all!
Of course, Eliot did show an unhealthy interest in the cake from the very beginning ...
So now ... the cake is gone and it is time to pack away the Christmas plates and return to the ordinary days before lent ... Ash Wednesday is 5th March ... in just three weeks.

O God, 
you know us to be set 
in the midst of so many and great dangers, 
that by reason of the frailty of our nature 
we cannot always stand upright: 
Grant to us such strength and protection 
as may support us in all dangers 
and carry us through all temptations; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Good morning

If dogs could talk ... then the message here is, "Go find your own bed because I've taken over this one!"
And when Eliot takes over ... there's not a great deal of space left for anyone else.
There are some cartoons produced by 'Off the leash' that capture the various dog attitudes to perfection.  This is today's offering, for example:
The only difference with Eliot and 'The Stalker' is that there's likely to be a ring of toys around my feet as he tries to find something that will induce me to play with him.
Dogs seem to have a great deal of patience and, clearly, know how to manipulate their humans!

Monday, 10 February 2014

The longest break ...

People ask if I'm going to return to the blog ... and the answer is "maybe"!
There's no doubt that Eliot is still as handsome as ever ... and appears to take great delight in being out and about in the car!
 Saint Nicholas' continues to be a place for quiet prayer at lunchtimes and a centre for worship on Sundays and Wednesdays ... and the choir is simply wonderful.  The anthem on our anniversary Sunday was beautiful.
Photographs of food are taken regularly ... 
So, life continues much as it did before the long break.
The gap was forced upon me with an attack of shingles ... and somehow, once a habit is broken, it is more difficult to return to that pattern.  
The best I can offer is that I'll try to keep to a regular slot ... 
Eliot will no doubt feature frequently!  
Flowers often provide inspiration.
And the Mountains of Mourne look good from any angle and in any kind of weather.
As it says in "Jubilate" ... the Lord is good, his loving mercy is for ever, his faithfulness throughout all generations."
So ... that's it for now!