A Friday View

It’s been another mixed day today so I thought I’d share a few photos with you.

First, my daughter’s car. It’s a lovely little car, almost a year old now, and perfect for her to run around in to work and the gym and so on. I quite like it myself to be honest, especially all the automated features like windscreen wipers that come on on their own when rain is detected. Or the medianav device that connects to my phone so I can listen to my own music without trailing wires all over the place.

One thing it is NOT good art its opening the bonnet to replace the screen wash. Exhibit A…. my dad helping me work the stupid bonnet out and filling the stupid water bottle.

Next, this headline in the newspaper today: Music is good for dementia, which is great news for most of the people I know because we enjoy so much music we have got a huge pool to choose from in later years in case we need it to keep our little grey cells working.

Now, like every good story arc, there has to be an element of tragedy, or disaster, or downright nastiness. My next picture shows a group of youngsters attacking not one, but TWO buses near home this evening.

These kids were goading the drivers and trying to damage the vehicles. The drivers had it well in hand, but even so, it saddens me to think that this is what passes for entertainment for kids like this.

And finally, the best bit of the day, my other band room – Todmorden Community Brass Band. This its the band I conduct on a Friday and where my poor husband gets a load of stick from me as he sits on the top chair as Principal Cornet.

We are currently in our post Christmas spell and we are looking at potential pieces to play in our forthcoming anniversary concert so and over the summer for our outdoor gigs in and around the local area.

So that’s a little peek at my Friday this week. I also did some studying and some work for church but I didn’t take photos of that. I could perhaps share with you a little something I watched as part of my studies if you like?

Go on then. Here’s a bit of Laurel and Hardy from 1928. I hope you enjoy it.

Christianity, General/Journal

On Placement – Part One

It has been a while since I updated you all about what’s happening with my spiritual journey so I thought today was a good day to share with you where I am up to.

You may know that I am currently in the stage of discerning God’s call and what it means for me and my life, and having gone through several stages of inspection and indeed introspection, I am now moving on to another stage of my journey.

I have been given a date to attend a Bishop’s Advisory Panel (BAP for short) in September, where I will go through a three-day “interview” process where I may – or may not – be recommended to go for further training in the church. As part of the process so far I have seen two vocational advisors and an examining chaplain as well as having several conversations with the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) about what God’s call sounds like to me. During that process, it has been highlighted that I have little experience of church outside my own circle, and so I have arranged to do a short placement with a neighbouring parish to see how they do things there.

I started my placement today at St Michael’s in Alkrington, and I am going to be there for the next three Sundays with a view to learning as much as I can from a different priest-in-charge and from the congregation there.

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It has been a long day – my first service was at 8am this morning – but I have met lots of new people and seen three different styles of worship with three different congregations. First was a said Eucharist, which means that we shared holy communion but there were no hymns and all of the prayers and responses were spoken not sung. Next was a service at 9.30am which was a sung Eucharist, which you can probably work out is where we share communion but sing hymns and responses. Both services were very different from that which I am used to, but it helped me focus on the reasons why we “do” worship in church, and how we relate to each other as fellow worshippers.

I had a cup of tea after the service with some of the congregation members and I think I have found a new set of friends in the needlework group who meet on a Monday afternoon! The ladies there promised me a noisy afternoon of knitting and nattering so I’m going to take my crochet hooks with me and head off tomorrow for some fun and chats with them. I also spoke to a gentleman who at the grand age of 93 still plays euphonium in the church brass band, and with whom I have a “date” on Thursday evening at band practice.

Later on, I went to a Family Service which was a totally different service in terms of style for families who are looking to have their children in faith schools. There was over 70 children there and wow, what an experience!

I was introduced to all three congregations and prayers were offered for me and my vocational call. I was touched and humbled by the response of the church today because I don’t remember ever being the focus of attention quite so much before, and to know that there are about 200 people who prayed for me today was an amazing feeling.

I have learned a lot of things today – not least that 93 year old gentlemen can use a smartphone better than some children can! – and I am looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks with this group of lovely people and sharing ministry and mission with them for a short while.

So. My pre-BAP placement has begun and so too has the next stage of my discernment journey. I hope to keep you up to date with how things progress, and I’ll perhaps blog about what is involved with BAP too as things progress there.



Crossing That Finishing Line

I am really REALLY pleased to be able to share with you some good news, and that is that I have got confirmation that I have been awarded my degree today. I want to say I’m proud but to be honest I am more relieved than proud at the moment!

I am now permitted to use the title ‘Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Humanities with Creative Writing, classification 2.1’ – or BA (Hons) Hums (Open) for short.

mortar board and scroll

So how about that then?! Yes, me. With a degree!

When I began this whole shebang I never thought I would see the end of it, and it was a bit of a walk of faith really when I began it. Let me tell you a bit of my story.

When I went to sixth form at the age of 16, for some reason, I didn’t go to the same one that my friends chose, and it didn’t do me any favours at all. I failed my exams at the end of the first year and instead of growing up and knuckling down to study, I opted to leave college and went to work instead. I was seeing Kevin (who is now my husband) and there were a couple of other reasons that made it just not worth the effort of going to college, and a training course at the ICI seemed a better option. Well it would to a clueless 17 year old with her head in the clouds, wouldn’t it?!

At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing but over the next few years I felt I was missing out on something. My friends had finished college and were on their way through university but I was married and had a toddler to care for. It took a few years but I got round to thinking that maybe I’d made a mistake in leaving college at the age of 17.

open universityI came across an advert for the Open University and I thought it offered a chance for me to do something about my lack of education. I had done a BTEC in Business and Finance at day release with the ICI but that was work, not education. I toyed with the idea of doing an English A Level or something, but when the advert for the OU kept cropping up I thought – why not? It offered distance learning which could be done in my spare time whilst still working full time, being a mother and a bandsman and all the stuff I was doing with the Brigade and church. Easy. (Ha!).

At the time, the modules were about £1500 each and so it was with MUCH trepidation that I stepped out. I was paying for it on finance terms and I threw myself in to it. To be honest, I thought at the time that I would do the first one and see how that was before making a decision. I did a foundation course (level 1) in Arts and Humanities which covered the basics of history etc as well as teaching me the basics of how to do studying with a distance learning course. I really enjoyed it and was thrilled to sit an exam in a REAL university building at the end of it. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of learning and I thoroughly enjoyed the art history part and learned that there is so much more to learn than I ever thought was possible.

I then opted to do a literature module, but about half way in I got into difficulty (too much else going on) and I dropped out. I tried it again the next year and successfully completed it. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations on that course, and I promised myself I would work my way through the Dickens canon after it. (Note to self: you can do that now!)

I tried a Philosophy module next but got into difficulties again about half way through. The subject matter was thoroughly absorbing and I was really enjoying it, but as before, life got in the way and I had to drop out. To be honest, life got in the way for the next 15 years or so during which time the module fees crept up and up and my time got squeezed more and more.

Until about 2010 when my life suddenly stopped in its tracks. I found myself out of work, ill, and with lots of time on my hands. I had always imagined going back to the Open University but it was one of those “yeah, one day” fantasies like the ones I have about visiting Iceland or Canada. In other words, not in my lifetime.

But then I did a bit of digging around and I realised that Student Finance England were now offering student loans to cover the costs of studying with the Open University. Ooooh. Possibilities opened up! I spoke to the very nice people at the student helpdesk with the OU and I realised that I just about had enough time to complete my degree if I doubled up on a couple of modules and did 5 modules in 4 years. (There are rules about time limits on starting modules for your OU degree and finishing them) I thought it sounded do-able, but I didn’t want to throw myself straight in to studying two level 2 modules after a break of so long. Plus, my health was not good and I was on big doses of painkillers and other drugs to try and keep me functioning. So I opted to do a “gentle” module and chose to study the history of medicine from the middle ages to the turn of the 20th century.

Only, it wasn’t gentle and it had an exam at the end of it. Eek! I was thoroughly prepared to do it (having done weeks and weeks worth of revision beforehand) but I was so nervous on the day that I could barely hold my pen to begin with. In fact, my nerves were so bad I couldn’t even work out where to write my name on the front of the answer booklet.

I passed it though, and my marks were higher than the literature course I’d done earlier. So, heartened slightly by that, I decided to double up the next year.

I studied creative writing and a music module at level 2 the year after the history of medicine one, and very nearly threw in the towel so many times doing two modules at the same time. I wasn’t working as such, but let me tell you, being dependent on codeine and tramadol and a whole host of other drugs to keep my pain at manageable levels meant that it was tough going. Really tough!

So, I was nearly there. After all this time and looking at the end of my degree 18 years ago or so, I was in a position where it was almost touchable. All I had to do was to do two level 3 modules to finish my honours degree. But things were starting to develop at church, and I felt called to serve in a bigger way than I was doing at the time and I was in a dilemma. Do I study a single level 3 module for the next two years and risk delaying my next steps in the church, or do I double up and free myself up the year after to be able to follow my church pathway?

I did the hardest one, and did two level 3 modules at the same time to finish my degree on advanced creative writing and a module on children’s literature. And boy was it tough!

Not only the level of study was more intense and difficult, but it was harder for me to keep going. I was so near yet so far and time and time again I felt like jacking it all in and saying forget it. But I have been blessed to have a lot of people on my side cheering me on and keeping me going. If I start to name people then I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but I do have to say a big thank you to Kevin, Emma and Ethan who are the people closest to me and who have suffered every assignment with me.

And so we’re here, nearly 20 years after I started, and I have just clicked the button to accept my degree. I truly never thought this day would come and I feel just a bit emotional.

I’ve learned so much about so much and my mind and my eyes have been opened wide. I have met some lovely people and I have spent some valuable time with people who have shared my journey at various times. I couldn’t have done it without them.

The question now is what next? Well, I don’t know is the honest answer. I have some ideas, but as with anything in life there are no certainties and no doubt my future will unfold one day at a time in its own sweet way. I did so much writing over the last two years that I want to go back and revisit some of those pieces and I have a couple of ideas that I want to turn into writing projects.

Whatever happens, it will be with a buoyant BA after my name. Yay!



ConductorCam Shot of the Day

My ConductorCam shot of the day today was taken when I was conducting my band, the Todmorden Community Brass Band. We were playing at the White Rose Archery Fun Day in Hebden Bridge and we were under two gazebos which was to keep the rain off. Trouble is, there was no rain and it kept the sun off instead…brrr!

ConductorCam Shot
ConductorCam Shot

We played our usual sort of program – a couple of marches, some songs from the shows, some pop songs, some TV themes (Game of Thrones on an archery day…doesn’t get much better than that!). As you can perhaps see from the scores on my music stand we hit a bit of a mellow mood at one point, and we also played Li’l Darlin’ by Neal Hefti.

After a bit of Manhattan Skyline and Volare (done in the Gypsy Kings style) we finished off with Tritsch Tratsch Polka with a bit of comedic tromboning from the Bass Trom.

Looking forward to my next outing with the band when we play at the Todmorden Agricultural Show on 20th June in Centre Vale Park in Todmorden. If you fancy coming to have a listen bring your midge repellent and we’ll be there from about 12 noon until 3pm ish. You never know, we might even be able to squeeze in a couple of requests if you’re lucky!

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Today’s Office


Waiting for the technical run through for the Wizard of Oz at school. This is my view for the next four hours or so. Happy days!





Ah September, How I Love Thee!


I love this time of year. It has always been my favourite time, and even as I get older the pleasure and thrill of September hasn’t diminished one iota. 

When I was at primary school I loved September because I loved the newness of a different classroom, the stiffness of new shoes and school uniform, the fresh start with a new teacher all wrapped up with the security of being in a familiar and comforting school I had known all my life. I loved the chilly mornings with my new anorak keeping me warm that would quickly get turned into a cape on my head or wrapped round my waist, the arms tied together on the way home because it was baking hot in the Autumn sunshine.

When I moved to secondary school September brought another set of new things to savour: new timetable, new exercise books, even new subjects for us in the top set who got to learn German as well as French in the third year. There was the added buzz of new pens and notebooks – a lifelong love of new stationery was born during my time in secondary school – and every now and again there was the thrill of a new schoolbag too. The longer walk to school was lovely too and gave us kids more time to crunch through the leaves as they fell from the thousands of trees that lined our route to school and over the “backies” to the back gate. One of the best things about living in Blackley as I do is the trees – always has been.

After school came sixth form, and after those days and my very young marriage, another “new” hit me one September when I gave birth to my daughter Emma. Not only did the new identity of mother hit me with a big bang, but before too long I found myself repeating all those things I’d loved from my own childhood Septembers with her too. New uniforms being bought at the end of the summer holidays, new book bags and overcoats being bought, new shoes being polished, new stationery and new schoolbags….it was as fantastic to be on the giving end of those things as it was to be on the receiving end when I was a child.

My daughter is now about to start her third year at university and doesn’t need me to sort out her new shoes and stationery any more, and my son will be starting his final year at secondary school tomorrow. Boys are different to girls and he doesn’t want anything new, apart from bigger shirts and a blazer that fits him obviously! He didn’t want to go to W H Smith today for new pens and a notebook like Emma used to do, and as most of his schoolwork is done online now anyway, I would be just clogging up his pockets with pens and pencils when all he really needs is a pen-drive and his bus pass. 

Last September I restarted my studies for my degree with the Open University and I was able to indulge my passion for new pens and folders, something that I am looking forward to repeating before my next two courses start in a couple of weeks time. I am on a countdown if the truth be told. The courses are due to start on 5th October but I have already got my study materials through the post, and next Wednesday will see the online part of it being opened. That’s when I can really get to plan my studies – and my folders! – and perhaps even make an early start as well. 

I do love September. It’s like another chance at a fresh start and a clean slate again. It’s better than the one that we get at New Year, the one that turns up in the depths of Winter when everyone is dreary and miserable, when coughs and colds ruin most things for most people, and there are lashings of guilt from over-eating and over-spending at Christmas. The September New Year comes on the back of long hot carefree days of happiness and sunshine, and it signals the start of a lovely winding down for everyone. There are festivals and parties to come – Harvest, Halloween, Bonfire Night – and there is a sense of nature being in control. Leaves are changing into spectacular colours right before our eyes, conkers are already dropping from horse-chestnut trees in the park, the sky is a riot of sunsets and meteor showers and misty mornings are the stuff of dreams and legends. 

Ah September, how I love thee!!

autumn colours



Four Fun Facts

Four fun facts for you:

canned foodTinned Food
: Tinned food was invented in 1810, but for the next 48 years people who wanted to eat it had to use a hammer and chisel. The can opener wasn’t invented until 1858. Doh!

screwdriver and screwsScrewdriver: The screwdriver was actually invented 100 years BEFORE the screw. Originally, it was used to extract nails. (I wonder when its name changed from “nail extractor” to “screw driver” then??)


markingMarking: The invention of “marking” was in 1792. It was by a Cambridge University Chemistry tutor called William Farish. (Before this, exams were taken orally and by practical demonstrations in universities. Gee, thanks Mr Farish!)


mr whippyMr Whippy: The team behind the invention of Mr Whippy ice-cream included Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. (Ironic that she became known as the “milk-snatcher” after she oversaw the removal of free milk to primary schoolchildren in the 1970s when ice-cream’s primary ingredient is….milk)