Tag Archives: w*rk

We’ve gone on holiday by mistake

Well not quite, but that’s almost what it felt like. Without much notice, I found myself heading upto Northumberland for a few days and the Mrs came with me. The reason for this will become apparent but it meant we had a good 3 clear days available to us – even if the clarity was of diary commitments rather than the weather which obviously hadn’t received that message! It’s the first time I’ve been to Northumberland for any time. This Devonian Expat has made it to various places considerably further North than she ever thought, but you can’t get any further away from Devon before reaching the national border! It meant I was rather keen to explore and eager to see what is so special about this area of which I’d heard so much about. All the people I’ve met who have spent much time in the North East have praised it very highly.

So, our travels started with a good drive through mid Northumberland along the coastal road with a rather keen castle-spotter telling me about each as we found it. Devon’s not big on Castles… Northumberland on the other hand… We stopped for lunch at a really beautiful village (with a motte and bailey castle, apparently) for lunch. Should you ever find yourself in Warkworth and need a bite to eat I would very highly recommend the pub on the left, although the one on the right looked good too. Also, the cake shop with the chocolates looked an experience worth having although we were rather stuffed from the food at the Mason’s Arms. The whole area is beautiful.

We headed over to join the coast road in order to see the views… we hadn’t, however, managed to combine this sightseeing trip with appropriate weather. It was foul! Visibility was non-existent and it’s worth saying this was the weekend of the severe weather warnings and flood alerts for Northumberland! Despite this, the environment still managed to look good. We headed up through Seahouses to Bamburgh, whose Castle was the most impressive in stature of all we saw that weekend. Bamburgh, too, was very beautiful but very different to Warkworth. The plan was to stay there for a couple of nights and head over to Holy Island. The weather, however, suggested this wasn’t the best plan.

The following day, rather than head to Lindisfarne (barely visible due to the morning weather), we went back and explored a couple more coastal settlements. Seahouses offered us a good set of proper fish and chips as well as a look over the very large waves to the Farne Islands. It wasn’t the day for a boat trip round there either! We carried on, and the weather improved so we set off for yet another castle… Dunstanburgh. Accessible from Craster, it’s a walk along the coastline and it was truly stunning. The rough seas had brought with them the beauty of a soggy and windswept environment but it also meant only a few people had decided to do the walk. The moorland, complete with sheep, went right down to the coastline. The coast I’m most familiar with has cliffs but these gentle slopes meant we had such a great view. The castle looked like it had always been there; it’s ruined form looks truly part of the landscape and I could never imagine it in its fully functioning state. We didn’t make it over to the castle itself, and heard later that the tide made it inaccessible. What, for me, was also an interesting part of the landscape was both a sad but rather striking aspect of the pollution. The strong tide had left a track of foam in its path. The foam formed interesting shapes and danced in the wind, reminiscent of some of the mythical creatures seen in Hiyao Miyazaki’s films. They did almost seem to have lives of their own, especially when the wind caught them and they began to dance. Our return to Craster wouldn’t have been complete without picking up some of their world famous kippers, and the smell of the sea and the smoke house was definitely a defining memory.

Our evening trip included a trip to Seahouses for some fish and chips which we duly ate in the car while watching the sea and the lighthouses of the Farnes. The final element of the trip was a visit, on the final morning, to the RNLI museum to Grace Darling, a heroine of the area who I’d never heard of. It turned out she was a figure of celebration in the Victorian era who, along with her father, had been involved in a notable rescue. It turned out that she didn’t want to be a famous person so I shall not linger on her any longer, however interesting her story was.

What made the holiday so special was the knowledge that we didn’t have to rush around and see everything in that visit. While it’s not an area I’d seen much of before, I would almost certainly get the opportunity to go again as the Mrs and I will be moving to the North later in the year.

The holiday had been something of an accident, rather than a mistake, because I’d been up North for a job interview, and it was one I got. I found out the night before we set off on our Northumbrian mini-holiday. It is hugely exciting to know where we’re going, that we’re going together and we can settle. I always intended to move from this job towards the second half of this year and now we know to what role I’ll go, and when. Horray for these things, and horray for an exciting and beautiful place to settle.

Notes on my Spiritual Journey 6 – Current Job

After leaving SCM, I found myself increasingly drawn to community-focussed lay ministry. After applying to run a residential community which subsequently didn’t feel right enough (and I withdrew), I was delighted to discover a community being created on my own doorstep. Drawing from the experiences of growing the sense of community within SCM, I came to my current role and have had a very special opportunity to set up a residential Christian community. With a shared ethos, commitment to sharing in worship and a desire to serve Birmingham through volunteering, four of us now live together. In engaging with this community I continue to share in the corporate development of faith I valued from SCM and the convent. In the leadership of the group, I find myself being constantly challenged, and rewarded, in the way I am called to serve as well as manage the residents.

Some of my work time was left free to pursue projects of interest to me. This gave me the opportunity to think big and outside the box. While the initial dreams stood aside for the more functional and necessary, I found work as one of a team of volunteer chaplains to a local University. The projects which have been of particular interest in this role are in producing a prayer resource to be shared with all the churches in the city centre, regardless of doctrine or denomination. This required a partner project mapping all the relevant contacts, and in this way I have been able to get to know the central Birmingham communities in a unique and highly invaluable way. The understanding and observance of the changing life within this area affects the whole city, regardless of where each resident lives.

The nature of a community orientated project like the one I lead focuses on living out the faith we all proclaim. It balances elements of worship (as I also preach in addition to running the prayer ministry for the centre and organising community prayers), action, service and fellowship.

Note: this was written several months ago and some of the reflections have changed but I need to do a final reflection prior to my last interview as part of my training.

Accidental folkie

As many wibloggers are folkies I thought it would be interesting to share reflections from a very folkie month. Those who know me would know that I’m not really a folkie, and a reluctant one at that but in April the folkies have been out to get me.

Since Easter (give or take a day), I’ve managed to see:

Chris Wood
with the Mrs
Karine Polwart
with the Mrs and housemate, D from Up North and Mr Folkie
Kirsty McGee
with D from up north… Ramblin’ Folkie was a bit jealous apparently
with Ramblin’ and Mr Folkie

and I’m going to see Billy Bragg and Chris Wood (and friends) this weekend. What has happened? I also went to see The Imagined Village which I blogged about here. I have to say that The Imagined Village was still by far the best of those gigs. I’m still not convinced I’m really a folkie despite the membership of the folk club and all, but there are worse things to do with an evening than spend it in a seedy looking pub with an extremely eccentric woman announcing people who play music not entirely to my taste. Or for that matter spend an evening with a good friend in a fascinating venue which isn’t sure whether it’s a cafe, bar, deli or garden centre.

It’s been really lovely to have the excuse to have friends to stay, and to go and see others – the current pace of life suits me much better than madly travelling round the country. I will also confess that I’m particularly looking forward to the next gig, being a Billy Bragg fan (and having seen him several times before). I’m also intrigued as to what it’s going to be like to see the act from behind – I’ve managed a ticket in the choir stalls. Always up for something different, I think it might just be that.

On the work front, things are going well. We’ve found our first community member in addition to me and so I’m sorting that out. Also I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend time in prayer three times most days, and finding silence particularly good. I’m back with the holy again this week as I’m preaching on Sunday and hope that it goes smoothly. I’m quite impressed – it’s Monday and I’ve known what kind of things I want to talk about since last week – normally I work it out the weekend of the preaching. Now I just need to write it. So with that instruction in mind, I shall go off and do just that.

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.

Shock Horror – She Blogs!

Wow, after only, erm… 9 months I prove I’m still alive!

Life continues, as it ever does, but I thought I should mention something that’s been bubbling under for a while now. I’m leaving my job… if you want it you can find out more information here. As such I am looking for a new job, so if you want a soon-to-be ex-links worker or know of any jobs, please let me know. The decision is related to a lack of accommodation from November, so location isn’t important.

As you can see, life’s looking a little uncertain at the moment so I hope you will bear with me as I write as much as I ever do!

What to tell you about…

I have this dilemma frequently. I want to tell you all about… but I can’t! I want to tell you this fascinating information about my friends… but I can’t. I want to tell you about things that make my head spin… but I can’t. i want to tell you about this really exciting work project that’s nearly finished… but I can’t… yet. It’s very annoying at times but there are worse things in life. I know it’s always annoying to read that people can’t tell you what’s going on but unfortunately it comes with having (mostly) given up my anonymity. There are too many people who know who I am. I’m also convinced that I’m not the only wiblogger in a similar situation.

What has been nice is I’ve been catching up with a number of friends – mostly by messenger but also by phone too. It’s been good to hear from Legally Blonde, ERG and Rambling Folkie to name but a few. I was very sad to miss Alice’s do but couldn’t make it. That’s life.

Life has been interesting and busy lately with weekends away with work – but other wibloggers have already talked about it so that gets me out of that. 🙂 I’ve been involved in leading worship lots and have now got a trial service arranged for the weekend before Greenbelt. Jen is going to stay with me that weekend which is great and a little scary at the same time. NC in the pulpit is a little different to NC at work or NC at home. Not in a conscious way but still… it feels very different. It will be great to have her to stay.

Since moving here, I’ve had more people staying over than I did in about the last 6 months in the abomination. It’s such a lovely flat and I’m delighted I managed to convince myself to get wireless broadband – oh, the luxury! Anyway, I’ll eventually get round to taking photos of it… One of the added delights is I have a sofa now. I’ve technically owned it for about a year and a half but it only moved into this new flat when I did. Saying that, I’m also enjoying having carpet again – even if there are blue dust bunnies everywhere. We have come up with various ways of catching the things including running across the floor with masking tape on our feet (not just me, you’ll note – and no fellow wibloggers for that matter) but that doesn’t work. Neither does hoovering them all up… Anyway – carpet is a fantastic invention. 😀

I’ve been knitting to celebrate my house move too. I’m trying to knit a selection of cushion covers but keep getting distracted. By almost anything – currently it’s being ill.

All in all things are good but variously make my head spin in good and bad ways. If I wanted you to not pay attention too much to what I write, now is the time to look away… It’s all boring stuff…. Honest…
I’ve misplaced my wallet or had it nicked (in morrisons). Grrrr. Lots of confusion and upheaval. The other minor thing I might mention is that a couple of months back I went to talk to my minister about vocations and stuff. That’s definitely minor and nothing to be thought of seriously. Hmmm… Was that a good plan? I doubt it.

Anyway… I need sleep. Should go now. Will try and find more things it’s okay to talk about soon.

General update

The only thing that I’ve really dropped by to talk about lately is the state of my flat. Fortunately it is not the whole sum of my life and I have been really quite busy with other things – local preaching, w*rk, flat hunting, social life…

Local preaching
I’ve been involved in leading services since December and I have been given the date of the first sermon which is some time in the future (obviously). I *might* tell you when it is, nearer the time, but I might not as it will be quite scary. Mothering Sunday is a bit daunting too but at least I don’t have to do the sermon. Things progress with my tutor and progress is being made – I hope. I’ve also survived my first local preachers’ meeting and really didn’t find it too traumatic.
It’s also all a good excuse to find out more about Methodism (which I’m a relatively late convert to) by asking many of my (poor, unfortunate) friends. Fortunately the ones I’m thinking of don’t read my blog, to the best of my knowledge… I had a really good chat with one of them today which was really nice. It’s good to be able to do these kind of things which aren’t related to w*rk. Which leads nicely to…

On the whole I don’t discuss too much about w*rk, so I hope you’ll tolerate a brief update only. As ERG has already blogged about and mentioned by Blonde, there was a conference recently. It’s also been hinted that I was involved in it… It was a very good but hard work weekend. I really did manage to enjoy it too, which is a bonus. The atmosphere just seemed so lovely and I’m really glad and relieved it turned out okay.
About a month ago, I went to an interfaith conference. It was absolutely brilliant. I got to learn so much more about Islam, Judaism and the Ba’hai faith. It was really enjoyable and I’m so lucky to be able to do things like this as part of my job. Woohoo.
There is another residential coming up at the end of the month and it’s probable that there will be more than one wiblogger there too. It’s always nice to catch up with wibloggers, especially when they come to my city. He he he.

Flat hunting
I’ve now started flat hunting. I’ve seen… one. Unfortunately it was too small but at least I’ve started. I cancelled todays appointment as I didn’t like the agent. The one advantage of the current situation is that there is no real urgency to leave so I can pick and choose. I’m not looking forward to the next stage of the war with the landlord. The agency are best described as… not all that helpful. They want to hold a meeting in my flat with me and the landlord present. I’m really not looking forward to that at all and I hope to recruit someone to keep me company. It’s possible that it will be a long and drawn out war but that’s what it now is. I’m going to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau on Thursday and I hope that they will be some help. Anyway, all I need now is somewhere new to live…

Social Life
I’ve recently developed one! It’s great. I’ve been to a birthday do each weekend for the last three weeks! Mum reckons I should get friends who live closer together as I’ve been to Leeds, Manchester and London for the events. I guess it’s a good thing that I live somewhere in the middle of all those places. It’s been really nice to catch up with folk, and it’s been an entirely different set each weekend – me being the the only point of overlap. I’ve seen uni friends, church friends and w*rk friends. It’s fantastic.
During the last weekend, I did get accused of drinking a little too much (alcohol). This was just my luck as I had only water but it entirely goes to prove you don’t need alcohol to have a good time. It was so much fun… Singing along merrily to Abba, Grease and a whole bunch of other cheesy music. I think there should be more evenings like that.
This week I should be going to see someone I know through work in a play. That should be good fun too. I’m not really trying to spend time outside my flat, honest. 😉

Well, I guess if my life is just *that* hectic(!) I should get to point (5) on the things to do list (below)… Go to bed.
Night all.