Monday, 2 November 2015

Still on the move

Playing in the sand
Three different locations for my travels this week. As I mentioned last week, I made it to my youngest son's home with a little adventure along the way, but at least I got there. It left a couple of days to enjoy his and his family's company. As neither of us have a huge pot of money, we went out on walks and went to the park, which suits me fine. It was half term and my son's fiancée pointed out that it was obvious that the park was the place to go for grandparents and their grandchildren during the half term holidays. I also took my turn on duty to watch over their little girl while they went to get some drinks and ice-cream (and no I didn't eat any, I have been very good and still not touched any cakes or biscuits since I left Latvia, despite the many temptations of some gorgeous looking home-made cakes in my travels).

A sculpture in the park
My son lives in Coventry and we went into town for a wander round. I visited the bombed out cathedral for the first time and it was quite sobering to see the remains. What was more sobering was the attitude of the people connected with the cathedral after the war. Instead of reacting out of hatred, they reached out in love to their former enemies that had caused so much destruction to the town and formed bonds with German towns. Not easy in the early days, but so necessary to bring healing and reconciliation to the traumatised continent of Europe. An attitude that even today is so sadly needed.

I also got to see more of my son's fiancées family. I had met her mother only once on Skype and never in person, so it was a chance to get to know each other and she treated us all to a meal out. That was partly because we are all pretty useless at deciding what to eat for the evening meal. I ducked out of the decision because I had no idea what the possibilities were - well that was my excuse and I am sticking to it. Still it was a lovely time and the meal was good. I also met another of her older sisters (I met one other on a previous visit), but there are still a few more siblings to meet yet before I have met them all, as she is the youngest of seven.

Autumn leaves
Unfortunately my journey onto my next stop - Cambridge was also eventful due to missing a junction on the motorway and having very little knowledge of the geography of that area of the country. I am fine up north and would be able to work out a rough direction to head in if I missed an exit, but no idea in the southernlands (no that isn't a real word, just in case you are wondering). I found a service station and decided to opt for the old school form of navigating and bought a map book. I had thought about bringing the GPS, but unlike a SatNav it doesn't talk to you, just beeps and my hearing is definitely getting worse. I got to the course about half way through the round of people introducing themselves, but didn't miss any of the actual coursework, so not an issue. It was made easier by finding a Park and Ride that meant I didn't have to drive into Cambridge and risk getting lost again. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to take pictures of Cambridge, but I am sure there are plenty on the internet.

One of the old houses in the small town of Oundle
After day one of the course, I headed to my Aunt's house. I was a bit paranoid this time about ending up somewhere completely different and so after travelling for what seemed like rather a long time I stopped in a layby to get my bearings and find out how much further to the turn off. It turned out that the exit I wanted was literally around the next bend - typical. I was quite proud of myself that I found her house without any difficulty once I got into the small town, despite it being a very long time since I had last been there i.e. decades ago. Pity that hadn't been the case earlier on in the day.

I love the higgledy-piggeldy way the houses nestle next
to each other
It was a two day course and I felt much more relaxed on the second day, since I didn't have the nightmare of driving into the unknown. I decided to stay at my Aunt's for a few extra days after the course, since we haven't met in rather a long time and it was a time to catch up. It was a good decision, as it felt like being on a retreat plus I have been thoroughly spoilt into the bargain. We have had gorgeous weather and so it meant we had a chance to walk around the very pretty town of Oundle. It is an old historical market town with some wonderful architecture. Since it was half term many people were away and the place very quiet - not normal in a town with a huge public school (for my foreign friends, a public school is actually a private school, but open to anyone who has the money or a scholarship to attend - unlike the schools prior to these that were restricted to the nobility).

This picture looks like a painting, but that was an accident
not by design or any clever after processing
It was a lovely surprise to find that my Aunt attended a thriving Anglican church, I hadn't realised she was a church goer. For the first time in a while I therefore went to a church service. It was a simple enough service with a congregation that spanned the ages and they were a welcoming group of people - which I feel should be the most important character of any church, not how slick the presentation is, good though the morning service was. I feel that God speaks to me in my ordinary life through ordinary things and I do not have to be in a church service with special music to feel close to him and so it amused me that he chose to speak quite clearly through the readings from the bible in the service that morning.

A wooden swan sculpture
I have been struggling with the issues I am seeing in the area of my study whilst also trying to hold the complexity of the issues in my head.... well it was causing a bit of a headache. I was trying to process what the key barriers are that rural inhabitants of Latvia and Estonia face and yet fully understanding that it is never going to be a neat and tidy overview that could be presented to planners complete with a method for them to use to solve problems. What was the way forward? Currently there are also issues to do with the refugees and the real resistance to taking them in by the nation that seemed to be unsolvable and harmful for a nation. Hatred and fear are never good for the soul of a nation. The anger, particularly in governments in Europe over the refugee crisis is not healthy and it all seemed like a big black hole whirling around in my head. And how did the reading speak to this? Lazarus was in the grave four days, he stank, he was decomposing and Jesus called him out. It was hopeless and Jesus gave life. The impossible became possible. I like that!
A huge dragonfly sculpture

Blue skies in autumn
The second reading was from Revelations 21:1-6, one of my favourite bible passages and the foundation on which I am basing my work - transformation of the world is on God's heart and I want to partner with him on that in my own small way. Far better than the world is going to burn and to hell with it. More hopeful! It felt like a reaffirmation of what I was trying to do. There was also a video with music and in that there was an image of a man dragging the world with a rope. Hmmm! I felt like that. The world was then tugged off him by a huge hand - the best place for the world, is in the hand of its creator after all. I also began to realise that what I had been looking for was a way to solve issues and that was an impossible task, what is needed is a way of opening doors to opportunity and a way to find those doors. It will be different in different places, as each place is unique and each community is unique. And after all that I went out with my Aunt on a walk and solved the whole puzzle..... well no! I went and enjoyed a lovely time in the warmest November day on record.

Cyclamens growing wild on our walk

I think our cats tolerate each other these days! It is at least
warmer that way.
Surprisingly enough I have actually made it up to my daughter's home without any hitches. It is easier to travel up north as I knew where I was going and even the number for the road I needed to find. The car was safely delivered back to Enterprise, the car rental company. It had been nice to drive the Skoda Superb that I got as a free upgrade, it could certainly pull away very nicely in heavy traffic, but I was pleased to hand in the keys and think that there is no more driving for me now, until ..... no idea when. I don't drive often these days. They even offered me coffee while I waited for my daughter to arrive, and they were in the process of making it when she turned up. It was a nice thought anyway. My daughter picked me up from Chesterfield, a town where I used to shop every weekend and so a very familiar place, but also with many changes. We did a bit of shopping before heading for her home and I managed to actually find some jeans that fit and a nice top, so that is me sorted for another couple of years - I don't do much in the way of clothes shopping.
Ian has been putting the finishing touches to the alpaca
house. Soil has been piled up to the doorway, so there isn't such a huge step

Ian meanwhile has also been having an interesting week. Herkules has another eye infection. He seems particularly prone to those, but at least we know how to tackle them now. I will relate the tale of Ian's other adventures in his own words, albeit with a few amendments for privacy's sake.

Channels have been dug in the floor to help with drainage
"Its 2:30 and I have finally  got out to the land for good. I took some frozen parsnips up to our other apartment this morning (where our large freezer is) and the bath was 3/4 full of water, so I used the washing up bowl and emptied some of it down the sink in the kitchen only to see that outlet was overflowing onto the floor. So I went upstairs to our neighbour, I had to ring a few times, I had got him out of bed (it was about 8:30 at this time), I showed him what the problem was and we then had to empty some of his wood store to get to the down pipe to then get to the access plate. I then came out to the land to let the animals out and pick up tools and any thing else I thought might be useful. When I got back we managed to get the access plate off but snapped one bolt in the process. Of course the pipe was full of water so had to let it drain into a large bucket I had taken. We then tried with various wire etc to try and clear the blockage but they would only go so far and then stop. It was either a break in the pipe or a right angle turn at the bottom. He contacted someone with some drain cleaning rods but they wouldn't arrive till 12:15 which left me with about 45mins. So I thought I would come out to the land and check on the animals and let the chickens out as I didn't earlier. So I asked some of the neighbours if they wanted to come out and see the alpacas, One wasn't up to it but the youngest came, she loved them and took loads of videos. 

Hay has been added to the floor for bedding
When I got back Mr Smile-a-lot (our nickname for the one of the friendliest of our neighbours, not that he knows we call him that) and our neighbour from upstairs were having another go but no success, we had decided the blockage was somewhere between the bath down pipe and the toilet down pipe somewhere around this 90 degree bend, Smile-a-lot tried with the a hose and water but that didn't work and then tried with drain rods but they seemed to get stuck in the same place. So then I attached the handle to the end so you can rotate the rods and with me turning and him pushing them down into the pipe they got around the bend, we added a few more rods and then you could  hear the rods from the toilet pipe. Tried again with the hose and success the water was flowing away. You should have seen the relief on their and my face, it was high fives and hand shakes all round. Smile-a-lot had some replacement bolts and the the outlets were tested and no leaks. I did offer to help our neighbour from upstairs to put the wood back in the woodstore but he wouldn't let me, I think he was just so relived that they didn't need to dig up his woodstore's floor. So hopefully everything is ok till the next blockage.

Ian has been fixing his Stanley flask. The flask itself is
robust and still working well, but the handle came off and
needed fixing on, so he fixed it in style
Oh yes and the smaller of the two marrows has ruptured and leaked on the front room floor, but I did find one of the squash was going mouldy on the side so I brought it out to the land before it bursts as well. I think Sgt Wilson got his promotion papers through today. Just gone to put them away and he is nowhere to be seen. When I got back I went to let the girls out of the paddock where I had left them all morning as Aggie has a tendency to escape nowadays, the boys were looking towards the forrest and the chickens were hiding in the current bushes and the longer grass clumps. Now I realise the white chicken I saw in the current bushes must have been the one from ark 4 not Sgt Wilson as I thought. I have had a quick look around but can't see any feathers."

So not exactly a quiet restful time for Ian either. 


  1. So even amid the evidence of war, there is evidence that the human spirit is ultimately good.

    I enjoyed reading your reflections on the Scripture. I'm beginning to work on something now developing some of those themes. Despite our horrific errors and missteps, I believe humanity and all of Creation is moving ever forward, toward the vision those farmers,shepherds and herdsmen had thousands of years ago--a day when our weapons will be turned into farm tools, everyone will sit under the own fig tree, and no one will be afraid.

    1. I certainly think so Bill and it is good that Coventry cathedral have kept the remains as a reminder that good can triumph over war.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the reflections and I like your own vision, one I would also agree with and something I am aiming for too

  2. so you're home. I bet Ian is glad you're back if only to sort blockages out!

    1. No not back yet! I'm still at my daughter's house in Bakewell, not a million miles away from you. I shall be back on the 19th November, so still a few more days till I get to see Ian again


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