Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Fear”

This has been a tricky one today because it has meant delving deep to pinpoint my biggest fears and I have uncovered some uncomfortable and painful things about myself that I don’t want to post about here today on my blog. However, it did make me think about what fears I have about the things around me, and this cartoon accurately illustrates one of the biggest fears about our world today.

As a Christian I believe that God is working through us to recreate the earth all the time, but day after day we see stories of yet another way in which the human race is destroying our planet. If it isn’t pollution by plastics in our oceans and our drinking water, it is destruction of rainforests and species after species becoming extinct because of the loss of habitat. If it isn’t disruptive weather patterns because of disturbances at the polar ice caps then it is unbreathable air in our major cities.

God needs us to be his hands and voice but sadly we put our own needs before those of others and the result is, it seems, destruction and pollution wherever we look. My prayer is for those who stand up and fight against practices and systems that make it so easy to damage our world, that their voices are heard and their actions are fruitful.



Tiger, tiger

I had a very rare day yesterday. So rare that I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a day like it, which is saying something. I actually had nowhere to be, nothing urgent to do, nobody relying on me to do anything and no reason not to take a day to indulge myself in the things I wanted to do rather than the things I was obligated to do.

And boy did I enjoy myself!

It took a while for me to get into the swing of it but I spent some time creating a picture of a tiger’s face, which I quickly did in oil pastels in my A4 sketchbook (and which has already been claimed by my son’s girlfriend!). I absolutely loved that feeling of applying colour to paper, and it prompted me to recreate it in oil paints on an A2 sized canvas, taking my time over it and taking care to build it up in layers rather than doing a “colouring in” exercise that I have tended to do in the past.

I copied them from a photograph online, and for the first time, I didn’t trace it onto the canvas beforehand. I sketched out the outlines in pencil for the pastel sketch, but…and I’m so glad I could do this…the painting was done entirely freehand with no backing sketch laid down first. It is totally painted and it represents a big step in my confidence as well as my developing technique. Who knows, I might even feel brave enough to take my materials out into the open air and paint something “live” sometime soon!

Here is the pastel sketch:

Tiger sketch in oil pastels

And here is the painting in its various stages of completion:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I usually find that doing something creative helps if I am feeling a bit out of focus within myself, and yesterday’s and today’s activities have helped me feel better. Not that there has been anything drastically wrong, but you know what I mean? There doesn’t have to be something wrong for something to make you feel better.

Having a totally free day yesterday was the key to it and I’m really glad I haven’t squandered the time to myself. I’m really pleased with the results and I’m looking forward to attempting a landscape or something next time.





Wednesday Hodgepodge

Truly Hodgepodged!!

Yes I know it’s Monday, yes I know it’s late and yes I know I’m breaking myself into blogging again after my break for my holidays but here we go!!

1. If you could work for any one government agency which would you choose and why?
I would love to work for Social Services. Social Workers have been in the firing line for a lot of flack in recent years…in fact probably ever since they were invented…but I think without them our country’s young people would be at a greater risk of being harmed. My particular area of interest is in getting children to attend school – after all, an education is a valuable thing – but to many families it just isn’t on their agenda. I would love to help out.

2. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologise?
This is a bit deep for a Monday, but here goes: I believe forgiveness is a gift to be given and is not necessarily dependent on the remorse of the recipient.  Forgiveness shouldn’t be conditional. You can’t say “I’ll forgive him for injuring me so long as he says he is sorry”, that’s not the spirit of forgiveness. Jesus said it during his dying moments. He said “Father forgive them, for they know not what they have done”. We should take our cue from Him.

3. What is your favourite meatless supper?
Roasted vegetables (courgette, red onion, peppers of various colours, garlic, rosemary, olive oil and lemon juice) and steamed salmon. DIVINE!

4. Wednesday, August 10th is National Lazy Day…will you be celebrating? If so tell us how so we can be lazy too.
Ah….I was on holiday last Wednesday so you could technically say I was having a lazy day, yes?

5. As a child did you have any special back to school traditions and if so, what were they? If you’re a parent have you continued those traditions with your own children?
I didn’t really have any, other than the regulation trip to W H Smith’s to get new pens, pencils, pencil case, maths set etc. With my own kids I have kind of got into the habit of taking a “first day back” picture in the garden with them in their new uniforms. I must gather them all together one day so I can do a montage of them growing up.
6. Write a summer tongue twister.
She sells sea shells by the sea shore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

7. Would you be interested in observing a surgery or do you turn away when the nurse pulls out the needle?
I am very interested in observing surgery, just not on myself. I always turn away when they take blood samples from me, but I have no problem watching them do them to other people mwahahahahaha!!!!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
For this analogy, the roof is the NHS and the floor is the benefits system:
If the government invested more money on patching up the hole in the roof they wouldn’t have to spend so much money on mopping the floor when it rains.



If I Ran My Own Campsite….

This is how it should be!!

We have been camping as a family now for more than 12 years and in that time we have amassed a huge amount of experience of good sites, bad sites, excellent sites, horrific sites, bad campers, good campers, essential equipment, frivolous and space-wasting equipment and so on.  It occurred to us a couple of years ago that we might like to run our own site one day, an idea that raised its head again this weekend after a visit to a terrible site in Durham…so bad we left early.

It’s not the first time we have felt compelled to leave a site early and it got us thinking and talking about how we would do it if we ran our own site.

The main thing that was so bad this weekend was the amount of noise on the site. We were in the middle of the countryside which was absolutely beautiful; there were hundreds of birds around and from twilight there were owls to be seen and heard…if only the car radios were turned down to a dull blare rather than the fog-horn proportions that they were. At its worst there were four or five caravans and tents around us competing over each other. So as one got to a song they liked and turned it up, the next would turn theirs up louder to drown it out. Which led to the next turning it louder and so on.  I actually quite like the living noises of other campers – talking, laughing, kids playing, the sounds of kids on bikes and flying kites etc but the sound of other people’s music fills me with absolute dread and loathing. So, rule number one on my site would be NO RADIOS!!!!

The next big thing about this weekend was that the toilet and shower block arrangement was just impractical for our family. Access was by swipe card, which we had to pay a £10 deposit for and doubled as the barrier card to let us on and off the site in the car. Trying to co-ordinate wees and washes between us two parents, a 17yr old daughter and a 12yr old son last thing at night or first thing in the morning was tricky.  Once we were in the block the next problem was that there were no privacy cubicles so washing was done in public (or not at all) and because the door to the block was permanently closed the steam built up to such a degree that every surface was swimming wet with condensation, including the floor. The owners had provided a mop but no bucket, so muddy footprints were merely smeared about and it was impossible to put anything down. Even the worktop where the basins were mounted was swimming in condensation so even putting a towel down was impossible. The absolute biggest frustration about the toilets was that yet again, the toilet block was situated not in the middle of the touring field (where it is needed most) but in the middle of the static caravans (who don’t need it at all). So, rule number two on my site would be A DECENT TOILET BLOCK IN THE TOURING FIELD.

Now then, next on my list of grumbles this weekend was the lack of space on each pitch. It was obvious that the owners wanted to squeeze as many people in as they could but it was to the detriment of the campers. Our caravan was pitched in the centre of our allocated space with our car on one side and the awning on the other and there was barely enough room to get up the side of the van to sort the water out or to get in and out of the car without scuffing the van, our car or next door’s awning. The same was on the other side; we could only just get out of our awning without walking slap bang into next door’s car. The back of the van, where the waste water butt is located, was about four inches away from a grass bank and the front of the hitch was only a couple of feet away from the roadway which meant we had nowhere to put our chairs out (if we’d wanted to with the noise…) and we had to make do with sitting in the awning. No sunbathing on our side of the field unless we wanted to encroach on another pitch or lie in the road. The touring field was roughly an oblong shape with a space in the middle occupied by a mixture of tents and caravans. To get to the toilet block we had to walk through other people’s pitches, which I thought was really rude because they had little enough space as it was already.  My next rule therefore would be PROPER SPACING FOR ALL PITCHES.

The list of gripes could go on and on – such as there were no rubbish bins on the touring field so there was a lot of litter lying about (sweet wrappers, bottle tops, cigarette butts etc), the sour old man who booked us in, the badly laid turf that was curling up at the edges and looked awful as well as being a trip hazard – but this is turning out to be a pretty negative post already so I’ll stop now.

I will just tell you that this site above all others was the one that we packed up, loaded and hitched in record time. Our mood was pretty sombre anyway (family stuff) but the final straw came at 4pm when we were trying to listen to the news on our radio inside the van. The car radio opposite us was so loud that we couldn’t hear it at all. At 4.04 I said “that’s it, Kevin can we go home?!!!” and he said “Yes, let’s go”. We were off the site before 4.50pm, and that time included a stop at Reception to do the necessaries with the swipe card and so on.  It’s usually a 2 hour process so 40 minutes is a world record!

If I owned my own campsite I would make sure that my guests were given the best of what the countryside can offer – peace and quiet, fresh air, open space  and friendship. Watch this space!!