09 Jun

The Hazards of Walking

Walking is claimed to be the safest way of exercising, with little collateral damage to the body. Last Saturday Marian had some ladies here at home for a breakfast together and I thought it wisest to go for a long walk. Walking east along the A27 past Lambleys Lane I took a path north that climbs the hill with Sompting Church on the right, then Sompting Abbots School.

First hazard
The path had been blocked off at its northern end, no one had walked it for ages and stinging nettles had conquered the territory. That discovery came as I clambered through, moving nettles with my feet before every step. My thin cotton walking trousers are permeable to nettle stings.

Second hazard
The path opens up into a large, south facing field, following what used to the dividing hedge between two. On the breast of the hill I saw numerous cattle, walking east. Fine, I thought, I will cross their path behind them. They decided to reverse direction. Fine, until they stopped, straddling my path.
They turned out to be curious, year-old heifers and bull calves. So curious they pressed towards me until I took refuge behind a broken signpost surrounded by old wire fence. Still they pressed. Eventually I noticed a more diffident heifer and shouted until she started to move away, the rest following like a flock of – well – young heifers and bulls.

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Third hazard
The path goes due east, then turns north again over the brow of the hill. The farm has seen much investment in the past couple of years, especially on the fencing.
In the field behind the fence was some flowering clover and buttercups, pretty enough to photograph. My camera does not have a great telephoto lends, so I crouched and leaned towards the fence, framing the picture carefully. Wham! The top wire of the fence was electrified. My forehead touched it, I sprang back after a loud sound in my head and a degree of pain. The only damage was to my camera that stored the photos in internal memory, neglecting the memory card in it.

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The rest of the walk was great and hazard free, along the valley where Marian and I have seen many deer, up to Cissbury Ring and back down alongside Worthing Golf Course.

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07 Jun

A Great Day Out

Marian and I went to the Big Church Day Out at Wiston House on Sunday, 30th May 2010, our first time at such a big Christian music event. Last year’s event was not so well organised, apparently, but this was well done – from traffic flow and parking arrangements, to food supplies, facilities for thousands of people, plus an interesting programme.

DSCN1681The Goring family used to live at Wiston House; the vast estate is still farmed by them and a forbear planted trees at nearby Chanctonbury Ring, atop the South Downs – the chalk hills lying just to the south. The main stage and b-stage lay north of the house, nearly far enough to avoid interference with gentler performances near a tea tent and inWiston Church, right next to the house.

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My first stop was to hear Bosh on the b-stage. Their message was clear and the music convincing. Turn the sound off, though, and I doubt I could distinguish them from hundreds of similar guitar-waving, stage-hopping bands. Maybe that’s a good thing; why should Christians stand out on the basis of just appearance? Wouldn’t that be legalistic?

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On the hill slope down to the main stage people settled for nearly 7 hours of music by British, American and Australian groups. “It’s going to be loud,” a friend warned. Not as loud as a Kings of Leon concert, it turned out, but why was the bass drum amplified to sternum-splitting levels when that part of a drummer’s kit does so little for the overall sound?

One lady took to vigorous worship in flag waving, but not as energetically as the wind keeping numerous flags at stiff atttention through the day. Others were absorbed in the worship songs, swaying, lifting up arms and faces, oblivious to wind, sky and cloud.

For Marian and me the tea tent was important, being the age we are. But a heavily pregnant Lou Fellingham demonstrated that advanced expectancy need not inhibit good breath control when singing. StuartPendrel sang a lot in Italian, a language he learned to help his operatic career, his fine baritone expressive and beautiful. The Kings Chamber Orchestra played in the church after Stuart sang. What fun to hear such a varied programme in such a small space! No need for amplification at that distance. The players moved to different stations in the church for some pieces, a truly surround sound.

For me the most moving aspect was being with such a large number of Christians in one place. Sharing in worship with a crowd evokes words of heaven, thrones and innumerable multitudes in musical adoration, totally focused on God. And no amplified bass drum, I bet, or solitary policeman pondering how well the crowd behaved.

7 June, 2010