Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

09 March 2013

Leading, Matthew 1:1-17

Leaders in the church, Part 4
< A joy, not a burden | Index | Miriam and Yoseph >

The basis for all church leadership is not in what we do, but in who we are. Jesus himself is of the royal line of David, he is king because of his family connection and he is King of kings because of his even stronger family connection as one person in the triune nature of the Most High.

A decorated family tree
Matthew 1:1-17 - 'This is the genealogy of Yahshua'...

Right at the beginning of the New Testament is a statement that should make us sit up and think about leadership. It's not about what Jesus would do during his three years of ministry, fundamentally it's all about who he is. And the same is surely true for us.

The foundation for any kind of church leader is who they are, not what they do. Jesus' claim to be the promised, anointed One is based on his inheritance. He is of the line of kingship, descended from David, not depending on conquest or appointment or influence through political manoeuvring. And he is descended from the father of the race, Abraham.

A greater line - As will become clear later during his three years of travelling and sharing the good news of the kingdom, he has a third line of relationship - with the Father and the Spirit. So he is of the kingly line through David,  of the chosen nation through Abraham, and has an inseparable presence as part of the triune nature of the Almighty. He could not come with a greater recommendation or from a higher source.

But take note of some of the other characters in the genealogy. Abraham we've already noted, there is Isaac who prefigures the Son to be offered up by a loving heavenly Father, and he is of the line of Judah from which Judaea takes its name.

There is Rahab, a non-Jewish prostitute and her son Boaz who redeemed Ruth, and Solomon, the one who was wise enough to ask for wisdom. And last of all there is Joseph who was not Yahshua's father but who turned out to be a mere building contractor yet a great stepfather. No man was his ancestor except through a woman, Mary.

Let me repeat that. No man was Jesus' ancestor except through a woman. The entire male genealogy consists of nothing more than step-ancestors!

Not a matter of ancestry - If this tells us nothing else it should tell us that following Yahshua depends not on our inadequate human ancestry but on our relationship with the Almighty. It depends only on a willingness to turn back to the Father and receive the gift of being hidden in Christ. This is not a matter of leadership as the world sees it. Instead it's a matter of humility and acceptance and love. If a man or a woman is to lead it can only be because Jesus himself has chosen and equipped them.

These first seventeen verses of the New Testament therefore set the scene for leaders and leadership. They are foundational. Leaders are to be humble, chosen by the King alone, not necessarily of high birth. There is no inherited leadership. No hierarchical leadership. There are just people willing to play their part whatever the cost. Just like Jesus!

If you want to follow Jesus don't ask, 'What did he do?' Ask, 'Who is he?'  If you want to be a leader don't ask, 'What have I done?' Ask 'Who am I?' If you want to follow a leader don't ask, 'What have they done?' Ask, 'Who are they?'

Jesus said, 'Apart from me you can do nothing'. (John 15:5)

Questions:
  • What have you done and achieved in your life? What does it amount to?
  • Who are you? (Who are you in yourself, in Christ, in your heart?)
  • Are you a good model for those around you? Are you following Jesus?
  • If people follow you will they end up in a good place?

See also:



< A joy, not a burden | Index | Miriam and Yoseph >

13 January 2013

Meet in houses

Choudhrie's steps, Part 2 of 21
< Clergy and laity | Series index | Small and informal >

For the second step in transforming church life, Victor Choudhrie urges us to meet in a different place. Instead of 'temples made by human hands' he recommends 'houses of peace'. What does he mean by this? How do we find 'houses of peace'?

Is there a house of peace here?This is Victor Choudhrie's second step for transforming the life of the church.

Move from meeting in temples to gathering in 'houses of peace'. 'God does not dwell in temples made by human hands'; rather He dwells in human hearts. For we are the mobile walking and talking temples of the living God, with a maximum of organism and a minimum of organization. Luke 10:5-9; Matthew 10:11-13; Acts 7:48-49; 2 Corinthians 6:16


As with step 1 there's a lot to digest. Once again, step 2 assumes the reader is part of a typical western church. We are comfortable with the idea of meeting as a large group in a spacious building, But Victor Choudhrie challenges us to read the New Testament with fresh eyes and open minds and calls us to meet somewhere entirely different. Let's unpack this a little.

Temple or house of peace? - Are we 'dwell[ing] in temples made by human hands'? Surely not! The Temple was in Jerusalem, not here in my town. Why does he say we are meeting in 'temples'?

What is the essence of a temple? It's a special place where people come to worship their chosen god. Is that what we do on a Sunday morning? Well, yes, in a way it is exactly what we do. We all know that the place where we meet is not special, yet we treat it reverentially. Or, if we hire a building once a week, although the building is ordinary we regard the gathering itself to be special in some way.

And what is a 'house of peace'? Reading the Luke and Matthew passages it's clear that travelling is involved here. When we arrive in a new place we're to search for a home where we will be made welcome. So rather than meeting in a special place, we might consider meeting in any home that will welcome us. That implies smaller numbers (200 people won't fit in a typical house) and it implies lack of organisation (no worship band, no pulpit, no rows of seats).

There are at least two ways of looking at this.

Mission or community? - The first one involves going out to find people of peace, spending time with them sharing the good news of Jesus, asking them to gather their close friends and family in their home, coaching them to lead the new house church so created and teaching them to repeat the process themselves. That's one view. This is what the disciples and early church did. Meeting as part of a small community in a home means you are part of a network of such meetings and actively planting out new ones.

The second way of looking at it is that the small meeting at home is a family, a stable group of people that love and care for one another, help one another out, build one another up, and encourage one another.

In practice, most home-based churches will have elements of both viral spread and family group. The proportion of the mix depends on environment. Where there is a large harvest in the local area the missional aspect may be the major one, where there are already many believers, the community aspect may the most widely expressed.

This second step requires additional, fundamental change of a most demanding kind. In the first step we lost our leaders, now we are losing our building!

How many conventional churches would be willing to take such a major and seemingly foolhardy step? Perhaps not many. And what sort church would do so? Perhaps the answer to that is one who's members are looking to follow Jesus closely and are paying attention to what he says.

Releasing resources - How much money and time does it take to manage church in 'temple' mode? Add up the cost of a building, either rented weekly or purchased outright, and the expenses involved in staff salaries, office space and equipment, lighting, heating and other running costs and the annual bill for just one church is very large. Now factor in the time people spend supporting all of this church infrastructure. The time and money absorbed by non-essential activities is immense.

Now multiply that by the number of churches (over a dozen in St Neots where I live) and you can begin to comprehend the resources that would be released if we all met in homes. Most of those resources could be used to support mission work, to help one another, and meet everyday needs in the community.

It's not that conventional churches don't spend time and money on the community or on mission, some make considerable efforts in that regard. But how much more could we do?

And here's the main point. How often do we stop and ask the Spirit of Christ to guide us in these things? If we asked him, what would he say to us? Would he command us, 'Go and make bricks and build a physical structure for me'? Probably not, that's what Pharaoh commanded the Israelites.

No, he is much more inclined to tell his people, 'Go in my name and feed the hungry, heal the sick, share the good news, look for the house of peace and the person of peace and allow me to build my church there, a body made of living stones'.

Probable responses - How will traditional churches receive the suggestion to move out of a 'temple' and into 'houses of peace'? As with step one there are three possibilities.
  1. Some may reject the step out of hand because it goes against church tradition and destroys what we have been accustomed to. Many may feel it's an unsafe and unwise move, a step into the unknown.
  2. Others may try to adjust what they already have. For example, they may stress the value of home groups and reduce the importance of the Sunday service in a large, central location. This meeting may become a celebration held once every month or two.
  3. And some might take hold of step two enthusiastically, replacing the main location altogether and focussing all their resources on growing healthy gatherings in homes.

Questions:
  • What arguments do you foresee being used to retain the use of a large meeting place?
  • Small and large meetings both have advantages and disadvantages, how many you can list?
  • What does Choudhrie mean by a 'maximum of organism and minimum of organisation'?

See also:


< Clergy and laity | Series index | Small and informal >

09 November 2012

Child support

Our future as a nation depends on the well-being of our children. They will be the leaders, politicians and educators of the next generation. Where children are not getting the support they need it's essential that the government steps in to help.

Roman sculpture of children playingChildren are precious. They are, in a very real sense, our future. How the next generation is supported, educated and encouraged will have more effect on the future of a nation than almost anything else.

Today's children are tomorrow's policy makers, employers and employees, teachers, police etc. They will shape the societies of the next generation.

To a considerable degree, therefore, the future also depends on today's parents and educators. But underlying all of this is the means by which our children's practical needs are met. In an ideal world this would be through the love and care of two parents in a stable and safe home environment with an adequate income. But we don't live in an ideal world.

What happens when marriages break down or a child is born to a single mother? Single fathers are less common, but death of a Mum or marriage breakdown can lead to situations where single dads face the same issues as single mums. One of these issues, perhaps the simplest to fix, is adequate income. It's usually difficult for a single parent to sustain full-time work. When children are small it may be all but impossible, when they are older the situation may ease to merely very difficult.

In this post we're going to focus on the role of the Child Support Agency (CSA) in securing an income where a marriage has failed. Earlier today my wife and I were chatting with a friend who is a single Mum. It turns out that this month there is a difficulty, the father's bank account has failed to fund the monthly payment to the CSA and they, in turn, are unable to pay our friend until the problem is resolved. Meanwhile there are bills to pay, not least for food. (Of course we and/or other friends will help out, but that is not the point.)

This is a very common situation. Sometimes the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months and  the children suffer. It's not the CSA's fault as far as I can see. They are following the rules and guidelines under which they were formed by the British government in 1993.

The way it works is that the CSA acts as a clearing-house or go-between for funds. The CSA will typically rule on the level of monthly funding that is appropriate. They can either take the money direct from a salaried income and pay it to the partner caring for the child, or they can agree to take a monthly payment from a bank account and pay that to the caring partner.

So far, so good. However, when the payment to the CSA fails for any reason, no payment is made to the caring partner and the children suffer.

It seems to me that the rules of operation need to be changed. The CSA should have a legal obligation to provide the agreed level of support to the caring partner (technically, the person/parent with care) and would become responsible for collecting funding from the funding partner (technically, the non-resident parent). In this case the children would be properly supported whether or not the funding partner paid up. In cases of non-payment it would be up to the CSA to pursue recompense, if necessary through the courts.

This would improve security for caring partners and children and make it far harder for individuals to avoid their obligations.

I urge the British government to examine the issue and modify the legislation if necessary. As a nation we cannot afford for any of our children to suffer like this during their formative years. The future of the country will one day be in their hands.

Legislation is no replacement for love and provision by willing parents living in harmony. But where this fails the children deserve much better from us.

Questions:

  • Are you a single parent? If so, do you feel the CSA is doing a good job?
  • If you could change one thing about the CSA, what would it be?
  • If you're a single parent, how important is the support you get from friends and family?
  • Do you know any single parents? What informal opportunities have you found to support them?

See also:

01 September 2012

Groups of six to twenty

< Groups of two or three | Index | Groups of sixty to eighty >

Groups of between six and twenty have many of the properties of family, especially when they share a meal together. Groups of this size may be sub-sets of a larger local church, or they may form an independent house church, or they may serve a particular function (such as an Alpha Course).

More than six, fewer than twenty
At sizes much beyond three, the dynamics of a meeting change quite dramatically. Let's take a look at this and examine the strengths and weaknesses of groups in the range between six and twenty people. (The optimum size is probably between eleven and fifteen.)

But before we do that, we're going to consider how groups in this size range are typically managed.

Many churches of more than about thirty people have smaller groups meeting during the week in addition to a main meeting on a Sunday. These groups go under a variety of names - home group, cell group, life group, small group, house group etc. Generally, such groups are encouraged or required to divide if they grow larger than about twenty people. The governance may be formal and tight, or looser and more informal.

Another kind of meeting on this scale is the house church, not usually managed or overseen by a larger organisation, but independent in nature.

Alpha groups often work well at this sort of size. So do prayer meetings, planning sessions, community projects and more.

Regardless of how such groups are managed and whatever they may be called, all of them share features and properties that are simply due to their size.

  1. Groups of this size can fit into a typical living room or garden, they don't need special facilities beyond those offered by any normal home.
  2. It's possible (and generally useful) for the group to eat together before, during and/or after whatever else they may do. Sharing a meal relaxes everyone and encourages a family atmosphere.
  3. This kind of group is small enough that everyone can know one another well, and everyone can play a part. Larger groups will usually contain some people who just sit and listen without playing an active role.
  4. Unlike smaller groups, daily contact is not practicable. So meeting once a week or less often is typical.
  5. Unless there are special reasons to avoid it, groups between six and twenty work well with a mix of men and women, young and old - just like a family.
  6. Although relaxed and friendly, groups like this will never be as intimate as groups of just two or three,
  7. With numbers like this it's possible to sing and even dance. There is scope for Bible discussion, prayer for individuals and for the local area, prophecy, tongues and interpretation, and teaching.
  8. In a mixed group of this size there will usually be a good range of experience, ability and personality. As a result members of the group can often guide and encourage one another.

There is great value in groups of this size. Fewer than six people may be insufficient for all of the dynamics listed above to come into play, and more than twenty is too many for everyone to play an active role. If you are involved in a church of thirty or more people, suggest to them that it would be useful to have smaller groups meeting during the week.

Brian Swan's post, 'The 'F' word', is a graphic tale of how things sometimes (often?) turn out in larger groups. Being small is no guarantee of being able to communicate well, but certainly it can help.

Questions:
  • If you are currently part of a group of this size, can you tell us about it in a comment? What is good? What is not so good?
  • If you are not part of such a group, are there ways you might find or create one?
  • In what other ways might a group of this size prove useful?
  • Jesus had twelve close followers, why did he choose a group of this size?

See also:

< Groups of two or three | Index | Groups of sixty to eighty >

27 February 2012

Day at sea

< Join the cruise and sail | Index | Dominican Republic >

Our first full day at sea took us further south and east. There was plenty to do and see, exploring the ship, an art auction, enjoying a restaurant meal, entertainment in the theatre, chatting with other passengers, and of course reading.

The art auctionThe ship headed east and south all last night and all of today, putting on the miles. The sea was quite choppy today, Atlantic weather rather than Caribbean weather.

We spent the day reading, chatting, learning our way around the ship, and investigating an art auction. I have no idea how much artwork was sold, but the display was busy as you can see in the photo.

We ended the day eating at the Aqua Restaurant this time. The menu is the same as the Venetian but the decor and lighting is more relaxed and pleasant. Like the Venetian it is a large space filling the ship's entire beam.

Our first full day at seaAfter eating we watched a show in the theatre, a tribute to the music of the 1970's and very well done. The theatre is surprisingly large, filling much of the front of the vessel, and it even has a rotating section in the middle.

Paul Scally, the Cruise Director, reminds us so much of Clive Urquhart from Kingdom Faith - his Luton accent and style of speaking are just the same! He doesn't look like Clive, but hearing him make announcements on the ship's public address system was uncanny!

< Join the cruise and sail | Index | Dominican Republic >

25 February 2012

Fly to Miami

< St Neots to Heathrow | Index | Join the cruise and sail >

We arrive at our hotel in Miami, tired but looking forward to exploring the cruise ship tomorrow. The eleven hour flight felt longer and the hotel was disappointing - but we're on our way!

The view from our hotel windowWe slept well but were up early as our flight with Delta was mid morning. The shuttle bus took us to Heathrow Terminal 4 and so to check in and an 11 hour flight to Miami. Somehow they'd given us seats that were not together, but the cabin crew sorted that out for us.

There's not a lot to say about an 11 hour flight (except it seems longer). I watched Dr Zhivago for the second time (the first time was when it was originally released back in the late 1960s)

I read some more of Ross Rhode's book 'Viral Jesus' and enjoyed it immensely. Dozed a bit, read a bit, listened to Igor Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, read a bit, dozed a bit.

By mid afternoon Florida time we were in Miami Airport trying to find the hotel shuttle - and failing. In the end we took a taxi (I almost lost Donna in the process) and made our way to the Miami Ramada Airport North. This place is actually quite some way from the airport and a bit run down, very different from our Holiday Inn experience at Heathrow yesterday.

We had slight hopes of relaxing by the poolside, although the hotel details online had mentioned that the area was being renovated. When we went to look we found that the pool area is currently a wasteland of gravel. 'Renovated' is a misnomer, it has been ripped out and a new pool is going to be developed. Back to the Kindle books!

We finished the day with a strange hotel restaurant meal, I had a pizza that looked and tasted like a frozen 'value' pizza from the local supermarket. Not great but it filled a gap. We headed for bed looking forward to joining our cruise ship in the morning.

< St Neots to Heathrow | Index | Join the cruise and sail >

24 February 2012

St Neots to Heathrow

< No earlier items | Index | Fly to Miami >

This was the beginning of the holiday - drive to the airport. All that will be needed in the morning is a ten minute transfer to departures, check in our luggage, and clear security. Our hotel was amazing, far better than we'd expected.

This might not seem much like a holiday, but Donna was home from work and won't need to go back until next month - so it is a holiday!

We ate a quick meal, completed packing the bags, said goodbye to Truffles (our elderly black cat), and headed off.

We decided to use the A1(M) instead of the M1 as there are extensive roadworks on the M1. It soon turned out that the M25 also had roadworks that we'd have missed if we'd used the M1. This is Britain, there are roadworks everywhere!

Donna had booked a night at the Heathrow Holiday Inn, a special deal that included parking while we are away. Airport parking is expensive and our cheap deal meant we got the overnight stay at very little cost. As you can see from the photo of the lobby on their website, this is a very plush hotel indeed. We were astonished to find rooms on offer at £130 per night at the full rate. We paid considerably less with a couple of weeks parking thrown in. It was a great deal!

< No earlier items | Index | Fly to Miami >

23 February 2012

Caribbean/Florida 2012 - INDEX

< Cornwall 2011 | Index | No later items >

Sailing ship off St KittsWe flew from Heathrow to Miami, Florida. We then boarded a cruise and island-hopped in the Caribbean for ten days, returning to Miami.

From there we caught a train to Lake Worth and spent nearly a week with our friends Steph and Earl.

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.


  • Friday 24th February - St Neots to Heathrow
  • Saturday 25th February - Fly to Miami
  • Sunday 26th February - Join the cruise and sail
  • Monday 27th February - Day at sea
  • Tuesday 28th February - Dominican Republic
  • Wednesday 29th February -Tortola and Virgin Gorda
  • Thursday 1st March - St Martin's
  • Friday 2nd March - Antigua
  • Saturday 3rd March - Barbados
  • Sunday 4th March - St Kitts
  • Monday 5th March - Day at sea
  • Tuesday 6th March - Day at sea
  • Wednesday 7th March - Dock in Miami, train to Lake Worth
  • Thursday 8th March - 
  • Friday 9th March - 
  • Saturday 10th March - 
  • Sunday 11th March - 
  • Monday 12th March - Train to Miami and fly out
  • Tuesday 13th March - Arrive at Heathrow and drive home

< Cornwall 2011 | Index | No later items >

13 September 2011

Holidays - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

This page contains a list of holidays, most recent at the top. I will expand the page as time allows.

2012
Caribbean/Florida, 24th February-13th March

2011
Cornwall, 3rd-9th September
Suffolk, 13th-19th August
Lake District, 11th-18th June
Pembrokeshire,  28th-30th May

2010
North Wales

11 September 2011

FAMILY - Cornish holiday 2011 - INDEX

< Suffolk 2011 | Index | Caribbean/Florida 2012 >

Landrake Methodist ChurchThis was a busy week with lots to do and see and a chance to spend a longer than usual time together as a family. It was good to have Donna's Mum and Dad here as well as Paul (her brother) and Vanessa.

The Methodist Church in the photo is now used as a house, our cottage is hidden right behind it.

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.


  • Saturday 3rd September - Two journeys
  • Sunday 4th September - The coast
  • Monday 5th September - Dartmoor
  • Tuesday 6th September - Plymouth
  • Wednesday 7th September -
  • Thursday 8th September -
  • Friday 9th September -

These pages just record what Donna and I did and the places we visited. We did a lot as a group of six together but not every day.

06 September 2011

FAMILY - Plymouth

< Dartmoor | Index | No later items >

This was a wet day and we didn't fancy visiting the beach or a garden or a walk, so we decided a day in the nearby city of Plymouth would fit the bill.

Plymouth in the Rain Plymouth is just across the River Tamar from where we are staying, it's in the county of Devon.

We made our way to the Tamar Bridge, paid our toll, and headed for the nearest park and ride site. We were surprised to see it doubles as the car park for the Plymouth Argyle football ground! With the car parked we caught the bus into the rainy city.


We walked to the Hoe in the rain and had to take shelter at one point. The Hoe would have looked much nicer on a sunny day, but it was interesting to be where Drake had played bowls as the Spanish Armada approached the shores of England. Later we made our way down to the Barbican area where we had a fish and chip lunch (or in my case cheesy chips).

Part of the Mayflower plaquePlymouth is a lovely city and full of history. We stood at the place where the pilgrim fathers had set out on the Mayflower and I wondered what they must have felt as they left England for the very last time. Did they watch the shoreline fading into a narrow grey line and then slowly dropping below the horizon?

Back at home in the evening we texted Paul and he and Vanessa came over to join us. Paul cooked an awesome risotto for us, he is a very good chef and we ate well!

After that it was TV, chat, or sorting out photos according to preference, then off to bed ready for another day in Cornwall.

< Dartmoor | Index | No later items >

05 September 2011

FAMILY - Dartmoor

< The Coast | Index | Plymouth >

One place we wanted to visit and explore during our holiday was Dartmoor. The moor itself, the famous prison, and the villages in the valleys on the east side of the moor were all places we wanted to see.

View towards Princetown and the prisonAfter breakfast we headed north east to Dartmoor and drove through some spectacular scenery to Princetown right in the heart of the moors.  This is where the forbidding and infamous Dartmoor Prison stands bleakly on a remote hillside.


Then we turned north, stopping for coffee at Widecombe-in-the-Moor. We found an unusual place for a coffee break here; it included the village library, clearly acted as a community centre, and had logs stacked around the walls. The tables and chairs were made of cane wickerwork and heavily painted.

After our break we returned to the A38 at Bovey Tracey. The mix of cloud and some sunny patches send bright areas scudding across the dark, moorland hills - very beautiful to watch.

Stained glass in Buckfast AbbeyOn the way back to Landrake we stopped for an hour or two at Buckfast Abbey to explore the gardens, the abbey itself (rebuilt on mediaeval foundations from 1907 and completed in 1930), and enjoy another coffee in the little restaurant. It seems extraordinary that this mediaeval-looking building is still less than a hundred years old!

Stopping at a supermarket on the way, we bought what we needed for a sausage and mash evening meal (using potatoes dug from our garden late on Friday). Paul and Vanessa joined us for the meal and an evening of TV and chat.

< The Coast | Index | Plymouth >

04 September 2011

FAMILY - The coast

< Two journeys | Index | Dartmoor >

This was our first full day in Cornwall. We travelled west along the coast and met up with Paul and Vanessa, ending the day with a nice pub meal.

Sunny LooeWe visited Looe in the morning, travelling west along the A38 and then heading south. We had arranged to meet Paul and Vanessa on the seafront, and we all ate our lunch together sitting on the big concrete steps of the coastal defences above the lovely sandy beach. It was a glorious sunny morning, really summer weather although we're now into September, but from 13:00 onwards an Atlantic weather system  moved across and the sky steadily clouded up.

Rainy PolperroIn the afternoon we left Paul and Vanessa in Looe and travelled further along the coast to the pretty little fishing village of Polperro. We parked at the top of the village and as we headed downhill towards the harbour the first raindrops started falling. We didn't stay long and were lucky to get back to the car withoug getting drenched as the rain was setting in more earnestly. It rained hard all the way home in the car but was easing off again by the time we arrived back at the cottage.

For our meal in the evening the six of us tried the local pub in Landrake, 'The Buller's Arms', and were not disappointed. Roast dinners at a good price and friendly service. And I was pleased to find several ciders to choose from with two on draught.

< Two journeys | Index | Dartmoor >

03 September 2011

FAMILY - Two journeys

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

On Saturday 3rd September we set off for a week's holiday in Cornwall. First we travelled to Donna's parents near Poole on the south coast, then we continued to Plymouth and our holiday home in Landrake.

Landrake Church towerThe first part was not a good journey. As we headed south the sat-nav diverted us through Winchester because of heavy traffic congestion on the motorway; the journey to Donna's parents at Broadstone normally takes a little over three hours, but today it took four.

Isobel had made bacon rolls for lunch and it was good to stop travelling, stretch our legs, have a cuppa and eat those rolls. Refreshed, we loaded their luggage in the boot and set off on the second leg of the journey to Cornwall, picking up the M5 and A38 from Exeter. For me these are old and familiar roads from years ago when I lived in the Bristol area. We passed the Buckfastleigh turning and headed through the city of Plymouth. The wooded sides of the A38 hide the city from view but we were soon at the bridge over the river Tamar and into Cornwall.

We quickly found Landrake and our cottage, there was a slightly musty smell in the old building (but it vanished once we opened a window, put the kettle on and began unpacking).

After settling into our little cottage Paul and Vanessa joined us and cooked us an evening meal of spaghetti bolognese. What a treat!

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

28 August 2011

FAMILY - Suffolk holiday 2011 - INDEX

< No earlier items | Index | Cornwall 2011 >

An old boat on the beach at AldeburghWe had a great week with Debbie, Beth and their families. Ten of us all together again, what fun!

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.




These pages just record what Donna and I did and the places we visited. As usual, we did a lot as a group of ten together but we also did a lot independently as well.

< No earlier items | Index | Cornwall 2011 >

19 August 2011

FAMILY - Ickworth on the way home

< Crabbing and friends | Index | No later items >

This was the last day of the holiday and we headed home during the morning. We stopped en route to explore another garden and stately home, Ickworth House.

Part of Ickworth House against a summer skyIckworth is a grand house surrounded by magnificent woodland and a series of small, concealed gardens. It was never enjoyed by its eccentric builder as he didn't live to see it finished. The house is circular and has a massive dome. There are long, curved wings on either side intended to hold collections of art.

It's a quirky home and we thought the gardens were disappointing. They are small and limited in scope. But the parkland near the house has some fine clipped yew and box. We strolled through the orangery and ate a packed lunch on a bench in the park.

Then finally, on towards home via the A14 and A428 - familiar roads and countryside.

< Crabbing and friends | Index | No later items >

18 August 2011

FAMILY - Catching crabs and time with friends

< Garden, castle, film | Index | Ickworth House >

Today was the last full day of the holiday. We visited Walberswick (famous for crabbing), met some old friends, and spent some time in the evening tidying and packing for the journey home.

Crabs caught by the grandchildrenWe spent the morning at the delightful village of Walberswick catching crabs and drinking take-away coffee and tea from the cafe on the pretty village green.

Steve, Debbie, Aidan and Sara caught 14 crabs from the beach car park, later Beth, Paz, Meredith and Verity caught some more from the river car park.

Our friends Ken and Gayna joined us between the two crabbing events and met the family, we haven't seen them for ages and it was great to spend time with them. We left the crabbers and took the rowing boat ferry across the river with Ken and Gayna for some excellent fish and chips - the first cod I've eaten for many years!

At Walberswick with Ken and GaynaWe ordered at the counter and then ate the food in the little restaurant, the entrance door is locked and has to be released by the guy behind the counter to let customers through. This seems a rather quaint idea but presumably stops hordes of non-customers trooping in and out to use the chip shop's loos.

By the time we arrived back on the north bank the others had left and we continued to Ken and Gayna's home in Yoxford and spent the afternoon chatting. Church life was the main topic of conversation. Ken has stepped back from managing the church's small groups and they're waiting to see what happens next. They're quite interested in SASHET so I need to go and visit them to spend more time explaining CO2 and answering any questions.

Back at home we enjoyed a relaxed evening and did a bit of tidying up and packing, ready for the departure tomorrow.

< Garden, castle, film | Index | Ickworth House >

17 August 2011

FAMILY - A garden, a castle, a film

< Ancient ship | Index | Crabbing and friends >

Today Donna and I visited a beautiful garden and a mediaeval castle while the others explored Orford Ness. Back at home we ate a simple but enjoyable meal, then Steve and I walked into town to see the film 'Senna'.

Helmingham HallWe drove to Helmingham Hall where there is a fine old house and a lovely series of gardens. The house was built from 1520 as a half-timbered structure but in Georgian times the lower level was faced with brick and the upper levels with matching tiles.

The house itself is not open to the public as the Tollemache family still live there, but we spent an interesting morning in the gardens. Helmingham's beautiful gardensThe house is moated, and the walled garden also has a moat around it, surely a very unusual feature!

We ate in the small restaurant in the old stables, then drove to Framlingham to look at the castle. Like so many British castles this one was badly damaged during the Civil War. There is plenty left to see, however, and the uppermost level of the curtain wall has been repaired suffiently to make it possible to walk right the way round. The views are magnificent.

Part of the curtain wall of Framlinham CastleThere was a re-enactment of the Battle of Agincourt going on in the castle grounds. Visiting children were invited to play the part of the English while the adults took the role of the French. There was a lot of laughter as the adults were frequently made to look silly by the man in charge of proceedings. But it was all good fun and very educational into the bargain.

Steve and I both loved the film 'Senna'. It consisted mainly of TV footage from the 1980s and 90s supplemented by snippets of amateur film and some stills. But the poor image quality was more than compensated for by the strength of the story, told as it happened by the people who were there.

< Ancient ship | Index | Crabbing and friends >

16 August 2011

FAMILY - An ancient ship

< Thorpeness walk | Index | Garden, castle, film >

We headed a little further south today, visiting the Sutton Hoo Saxon burial and returning via the charming little town of Woodbridge.

Excavating the Sutton Hoo shipSutton Hoo is the site of a Saxon ship burial. The site is owned by the National Trust and includes the area containing the burial mounds as well as the home of the owner who invited a local archaeologist to dig one of the mounds in 1938.

The visitor centre has a video presentation on the burial and a full size reconstruction of the dead warrior with his grave goods arranged around him. He is thought to have been Rædwald who ruled the East Angles and died in the early 600s CE. This was a time after Roman civilisation had faded away in what is now England and the Angles and Saxons had settled in the land. In East Anglia, they had already been living here for a couple of centuries and the Brythonic language was probably already fully replaced by a form of Old English.

The main shopping street in WoodbridgeDonna and I had lunch in the visitor centre, left the rest of the family exploring Sutton Hoo, and headed for nearby Woodbridge. Neither of us had been there before and we thought it was a delightful place. It has the advantages of being built on mainly high ground but including an area along the river Deben and easy access to the North Sea.

The main street is full of interesting little shops, cafes and restaurants and I found a book about the Battle of Britain that seemed particularly interesting as it is based partly on recently released material that was not available to earlier historians. I felt a little guilty (but only a little) because I left the shop and downloaded the Kindle version on my phone. Now I'm back in the holiday house with a cup of tea and have read part of the first chapter. We returned to the car via the marina on the riverside, then back to the house for the evening with the entire family back together again.

< Thorpeness walk | Index | Garden, castle, film >

15 August 2011

FAMILY - Walking to Thorpeness

< The beach | Index | Ancient ship >

The main event today was a long walk. We set off from the house and walked to Aldeburgh to see a lifeboat display. Then we headed on to Thorpeness for a picnic lunch and some boating. Then finally a walk back to Aldeburgh to see the carnival floats and visit the funfair. We walked home, ate our evening meal, and then Beth, Debbie and Donna set off again with the older children to see the fireworks.

Paz set off early for a walk north up the coast, Beth and the family followed later. The rest of us headed for Aldeburgh.

Lifeboat demonstrationWe're quite familiar with the walk to town now, every twist and turn, the houses and shops we pass, the trees and gardens and green, open spaces. Today was a little different as some of the roads were closed for the carnival, there were police directing traffic, and there were hordes of people milling about.

On the shingle beach a large crowd was waiting expectantly for the scheduled lifeboat display. Some men in the water lit a smoke generating flare and waved for help, then two lifeboats were launched and rescued them. A rescue helicopter appeared overhead and gave a bit of a display as the boats hurtled along parallel to the beach. The waves they created crashed into the pebble beach and made the children near the water leap back to avoid a drenching.

Boating on the MeareWalking to Thorpeness along the beach path we watched 'The House in the Clouds' growing closer and eventually turned into the village to settle beside the pond for our sandwich lunch. The Meare looked inviting so we hired a rowing boat; Steve rowed and Aidan did his best to steer, sometimes taking us in rather unexpected directions! Later, Steve and I shared the rowing until we got back to the bank for the return walk to Aldeburgh.

Back in town we saw the carnival procession start off and spent some time in the fairground at the other end of town. Aidan chose the Crazy House and then went on a faster ride with Debbie - and loved it.

The crowds at Aldeburgh CarnivalBack at home we met up again with Beth, Paz and family and shared a salad with cold meats and cheeses and some excellent sourdough bread.

As the sun was setting Donna, Debbie and Beth set out to walk back to town again with Meredith and Aidan for the evening's firework display. But I stayed in the house with Steve, Paz and the two younger ones. I've had enough of crowds for one day, I feel the need for some contemplation and quiet space to recharge my batteries.

< The beach | Index | Ancient ship >

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