Category Archives: Steel City

A brief residence in the Steel City, between one stage of life and the next.

Proper update

In November I mentioned that life was moving on, and I’d hope to write a little more frequently during a short intermission. As it happened the intermission generally led to a greater lack of internet than the one I had in November. Life has moved on again, and with it my internet connection.

Way, way back many centuries, well months, ago… I got myself a new job. In fact, I got it around the time I last blogged but couldn’t really say a lot. I’m now the Community Leader for an exciting new project in Birmingham at Carrs Lane, a well known local church. My role is going to involve setting up an intentional community and, now I’ve furnished the flat (rather very nicely), is to recruit members to join me. It is going to be interesting to see who comes forwards to be part of this community and where it will be going.

The new job meant that, after a stint as probationary co-hab, I returned, for the second time to this midland city – it’s becoming a little repetitive. The returning, that is, rather than the city. My new job is going to involve spending a lot of time in this fair area. It seems a little entertaining that, given my last job required me to travel right across the UK, that my new one wants me to focus on a small(ish) area of just one city. It’s good though.

Right then, this new job. The background to it, in a general sense, can be found here: Carrs Lane Developments and, if anyone’s suitably interested, the document about applying for the community can be found here: Information for applicants. It’s going to be a little of a challenge to have a wonderful fair trade shop immediately under where I live, the local markets 5 minutes walk away and not even that far to the stations. I fear I make be called upon to put people up from time to time, but at least I can get good and ethical food to feed them with.

With the return to Brummieland, came a little more certainty in life and thus I have returned to preaching. I should probably a) do some homework fairly (very) soon and b) blog some more sermons. Entertainingly enough, due to diary suggestions I’m booked up in November and December but not so much between now and then (not that I’m complaining in the least).

Over the next few weeks and months life will settle down into something of a very different way of life. Sharing in a community life in a very different way to previously experienced, and getting to know the inner depths of a city I’ve lived in for a fail while but never really got to know. This opportunity, for that’s what it is, will (I expect) offer challenges, rewards, difficulties and many things I cannot predict. The first of the challenges will be to find the members but I’m interested to see who comes forwards and what they bring. It may not be easy but it should be worth it.

And all this marvelous journey (which has been kept rather quiet over the last few months), kicked off properly yesterday. A collection of my friends and family came to join me as I was commissioned for this role. It was a really lovely service and my thanks go to all involved (especially to those doing the catering – we were very well fed). The flat survived the guests – there were seven of us in total and there was even one bedroom with nobody sleeping in it and no one needed to sleep under the stairs. The kitchen survived well too, but slow cooking does indeed live up to its name! The sofas and kitchen knives went down well with all who saw them and the church members who looked round the flat seemed pleased with what I’ve done with it. Even with all this happening we still managed (just about) to mark two birthdays and mothering Sunday. Special thanks go to the Mrs and C for helping me get the place sorted: for the lifting of furniture; the successful wielding of power tools; the chopping of excessive numbers of vegetables and much, much more.
However great the service and the weekend was, I’m rather pleased not to be going through it again any time soon. It will be very nice to be settled and to have the opportunity to create and maintain a home, with a group of other people.

So, what else has happened over the last few month – I found more grey hairs and got another year older, we went to another wedding (which was very nice) and I averaged a 1000 miles a month in a wonderful little car which now has be passed on to a careful lady owner (maybe doing slightly less miles than me). I’ve spent a fair while on the M1, far too many hours in Ikea and a wonderful time with friends and family. It’s been a great interval, and I’m very glad it’s over.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be settling into a new routine of prayers, frantically trying to get my local preaching homework done, preparing for a wedding (not mine, just to clarify), community members to find, holiday to have, Holy Week and Easter to mark and a new flat to settle into. Good to see life’s slowing down a little. 😉

But for now I should wish my mother a happy birthday and acquaint myself (again) with the delights of the kitchen.

Well, it’s less than 9 months!

After only 3 months I reappear, this time. Life’s been a little busy again lately – as the last post hinted.

Since last writing I’ve left my job and moved out of my flat – both of which are exciting but a little time consuming. Almost 4 years ago I started this blog to talk a little about what it was like to live in community (of the nun variety), then I moved on and eventually started working within another, very different community of people right across the country and the wider world. I met the most amazing people and had a great time but I’ll write in more detail about that on another occasion. This is now going to be another turning point for both me and this blog, so between now and the next major step we’ll have short intermission (during which time I hope to write more frequently).

So forgive me for talking little over the last year and indulge me in a short witter about the last few weeks since leaving SCM.

The first weekend the other half and I went to a wedding in the Far East (well, further east than we’d been before… East Anglia ish), and however nice that was it immediately proceeded some more exciting (for me) activities. In the week before I finished work a friend had phoned me up to ask my plans and on hearing I had a couple of days said “Can you help us move our boat?”. This led to interesting mental pictures of picking up said boat and carrying it but fortunately that wasn’t what was planned. So we arrived, late on the Sunday night, to a 62 foot long narrowboat and crew that appeared to have been in the wars and the friend then left us with his wife for the three of us to move the boat. I’ve never been on a narrowboat before but I certainly think it’s an experience worth repeating! We cruised slowly down river and worked our way through the locks and got to know each other better. The minor confusion was that both my other half and my friend’s wife have the same name… I’m sure there’s a conspiracy where such people are taking over the world as I know far too many of them! Eventually, I got the opportunity to drive. 😀 In typically NC-styley, I managed to crash into the overhanging trees twice but steered very well under the narrow and low bridge, and round 2 very, very tight corners (the kind that would have been challenging in a car). We saw the most amazing scenary and wildlife – there were so many herons and kingfishers, and we even saw a water vole! The other half is all set to become a canal pirate now!
On the second day we stopped at a town and went ashore for lunch. During this time we realised we’d got suitably used to being on the boat that we still thought things were gently swaying. At the end of the travels we decided to nip by and visit a friend of ours who’s currently imprisoned in a well known university. We kidnapped him, drove him out of the city limits and even out of the county. After such an achievement, we fed him top notch pub grub, then unfortunately had to return him once again. Having never been that far east before, I think we’ve both decided we’re up for another visit (and getting to go on the narrowboat again is only a small incentive, honest).

After such a nice relaxing few days, gaining very good arm muscles, I then packed my flat up and moved out to become (for the short term) a probationary co-hab (bonus marks for getting the reference) but am looking for a new set of accommodation as I need somewhere to go until March then things change again.

But cutting a long time short, we get to this week which has been particularly nice. Starting with the Mrs’ birthday, we went out with her friends for a nice night out but it marks us all getting old. After the meal, we went to the pub… for a cup of tea and we were all back home by 11! What’s happened to us? We’re all aging! This followed me getting my hair cut a lot shorter and now I can see many more grey hairs. Oh dear. 😉 On Tuesday I took a brief tour of the country to go to a job interview south of here, and to a gig north of us. The gig was amazing – we went to see The Imagined Village. If you haven’t heard about the project, you really should follow the link and look them up. A collaborative venture involving people like Martin and Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Benjamin Zephaniah and Simon Emmerson it’s bringing a new expression of folk that even appeals to a determined non-folky like me! It was really a top evening and it was great to catch up with some friends while abroad. Hearing England Half English to John Barleycorn was great, as was Scarborough Fair on the sitar and seeing Eliza Carthy bouncing around the stage. Billy Bragg was teased lots for his pearly king outfit, and Simon Emmerson for his dog film. For me the highlight over all that was Benjamin Zephaniah’s reworking of Tam Lin. All in all it was a really excellent evening!

So yesterday concluded the nice week as C, the Mrs and I went all met up for lunch and then after the day we went out for a meal and a good evening was had by all. This was nicely concluded by a surprise phone call from Tractor Girl who had met up with Orthodoxy so I got to speak to them both! It was great!

With that, I’ll had to bed and I’ll try and write again soon. I owe my successor a leaving speech!