01 Jan

New Year’s Day

HardyMost of UK has been rained on so much so long that the ground is waterlogged. Forgetting this, wife and I decided to take on a 6.5 mile walk from the village of Steyning, West Sussex, to enjoy a bright, dry day with a light wind. Being hardy folk, we took sandwiches for lunch, part one taken on the bank of the River Adur that meets the English Channel at Shoreham by Sea.

BlueSkyPart two was in a field under an incredibly blue sky with only the bare boundary trees indicating it was mid-winter. In this little nook, sheltered from the wind, it felt really warm.

 

 

Flood It was a surprise to see so much of the river plain flooded. This sign post pointed us away from the river bank, while on the other bank two women walked their dog. Beyond that, acres of fields under water.

Is there anything quite so lovely as a tree? Even this one in the middle of cultivated field, young growth sprouting light green, is beautiful with nary a leaf to see.Tree

And the 6.5 miles mentioned on the locally-produced guide turned out to be 7.8 miles.

1 January, 2013

01 Jan

Boxing Day / St Stephen’s Day

Winter, wet, cold, dark – at least it was on Boxing Day – 26 December 2012 if you don’t use British day names – though not so cold. After a fabulously relaxing Christmas Day with Alun and Carol in Newcastle Upon Tyne, we went for an afternoon walk along the Northumbrian coast, driving north to Craster first.

The sky was heavy, with a band of light showing through over the North Sea, which was so calm the pattern of dark and light was reflected on the water.

NorthSeaThe shoreline at full tide comprises large rocks and boulders. Instead of the usual breaking of waves on sand or shingle, the water ebbed and flowed through these rocks making a low groaning sound.

The pathway became pretty muddy and wife and I had not brought walking boots, so our town shoes soon collected mud enough to start a farm with.

CastleYou can see how much like a farming couple we looked at this stage. Also, in the background the outline of Dunstanburgh Castle, brilliantly located to keep out whomever was the problem in those days. Seaward are high cliffs, landward steep slopes to make access a challenge for attackers.

FarmerAmazing that an iPhone can take pictures like this.

1 January, 2013

10 Jul

Edinburgh

Marian and I just made a trip north to celebrate my oldest son’s ordination as priest in the Church of England and my 70th birthday. They happened in reverse order, but for various reasons we were able to celebrate both on 1st July in Newcastle Upon Tyne, a city with fine restaurants, hotels and one of the biggest music stores I have seen for a long time. It sells instruments of many kinds, sheet music and recorded music, too.
After our family time, our youngest son and his family had holidayed in Scotland the week before, Marian and I took the train to Edinburgh for a short break, a gift from my sons. Last December we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and with so many zeroes around this break was their kind gift.
DSCN2870As Welsh people, we know about rain; we now know that Edinburgh does rain pretty well, too. Not since being in a tropical downpour have I got so wet so quickly when walking the last 400 yards to our B&B.
The morning we left, there had been more rain, leaving the small car park behind the B&B mostly submerged and the bowling green over the wall unplayable.

10 July, 2012

25 Jun

Morning Dew

6.45 AM, Hillbarn Golf Course, West Sussex: The morning is bright, the sun having risen over the hill beyond. I stop near a green on this lovely course, sparkling under a heavy dew.
On the green are the footmarks of a couple of players, onto and off the green. One set approaches the hole, to remove the flag probably. Then two other sets lead to the start of two delicate curves, each ending at the hole. Successful putts for the two players in their early morning game, at least on this hole.
The dew will be gone now, three hours later, under the warm sun. The imprint of those minutes might remain in the players’ memory, but like much of our lives it’s temporary and ephemeral.
What does really count, or last? And in whose memory?

25 June, 2012

21 Jun

Brecon

Since Easter, more or less, it has rained most of the time apart from two weeks in May. To our surprise Marian and I had chosen those weeks for our annual pilgrimage/holiday near Brecon. The evening we arrived the gentlest rain kissed us welcome and our last day was pretty wet. Between the sun shone fit to bust.

TSnoozeWithin the national park lie both the Black Mountain (to the west) and the Black Mountains (to the east.) Looking at the ordnance survey map I saw what might be a gentle walk to a lake, Llyn Y Fan Fach.  It was an easy trek up a track built by the local water company to the lake, which is a natural one but which has been formalised into a dam. The dam wall was a good place to snooze after lunch.

Then Marian and I walked up the slope to which my feet are pointing to gaze down the steep cliffs scoured out by an ice-age glacier to the lake below.

M_LlynYFanFachThe view was glorious, sweeping over the far Usk valley and the Usk reservoir, where we’d brewed some tea while watching a couple of local men reel in rainbow trout, perhaps bedazzled by the sunshine, more than I could count.
To the east lay Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales and our goal for another day.
21 June, 2012
18 Feb

Another Warm Stream

As the early morning coach drove north up the A23 from Brighton snow lay over the South Downs. Even Worthing had been dusted the night before. My destination, Vancouver, lies on the Northern Pacific, south of the Gulf of Alaska, sounded pretty cold in February.
My host told me of the stream of warm ocean water from Hawaii (the Pineapple Stream?) that keeps this part of western Canada’s coast pretty free of winter snow. It was a surprise to find Vancouver warmer than Worthing despite the best efforts of Britain’s Gulf Stream.
Another surprise was a display of totem poles in Stanley Park and to learn that these artefacts were used to record real or mythical events, they were not used for worship by the tribes who carved them.
Vancouver’s house prices are sky high, one reason being the easy investment in property by newly-rich Chinese people, whose steady influence already has led to airport and other signage appearing in a couple of Chinese languages.

Totems Tourists

18 February, 2012

07 Feb

Short and Good

This morning’s walk of less than two miles from home to the OC UK office was wonderful. Despite the temperature being close to freezing point the sun shone full strength, the birds were busy and singing. Much was right with the world.

7 February, 2012

30 Jan

New Toys

A former colleague used to say, “Make it fun to get it done.” The obverse is when a necessary task becomes fun. So it was when the website of OC International-UK needed a bit of fast forwarding to replace out of date information and a good, but dated, appearance.
Since the 1960s encounters with computers gave me a lot of fun during the hard work and this was just the same.
GIMP is open-source software for graphics; a new style OC logo was made with it.
TextWrangler is a great, free text editor for changing HTML code, even working to files on a remote HTML and FTP sites.
Tracking down some truly free clipart took a while and recasting some of the text proved a minor part of the job.
Then along came Microsoft Internet Explorer. The original site used cascading style sheets, one file for IE, another for the rest of the world. In my learn-as-you-go style this became apparent only when finally loading up Windows XP and IE on my Mac.
Now, the site seems to work for Safari, IE, OperaChrome andOmniweb. Great fun – until the next review or a total replacement on something else.

30 January, 2012

30 Jan

Time Travel (2)

Kategoria25At work I used to read an Australian magazine, Kategoria, and was disappointed when it ceased being published. It was a thoughtful, thought provoking set of articles about contemporary life and the Christian faith.
One particular issue focussed on The Family, causing me sufficient disquiet that I worked to get the Feba world talking about family issues, promoting a biblical view within the disparate cultures across that world.
It had some success, with – as usual – many ideas that flew like lead balloons.
Great joy today when I found out that all 31 editions of Kategoria are available on the web site of The Gospel Coalition as PDF files to download. And that means less space on my hard drive, but more on the shelf in my overcrowded study.
Nice to see you again!

30 January, 2012

20 Dec

Time Travel

Intrigued by the intractable tensions in the Middle East, I determined to read Jerusalem – The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This evening I finished it.
It’s a big book, spanning the city’s history from the time of King David (circa 1000 BC) to this decade. Apart from my constantly getting lost with the names, family relationships and various empires, what hit me hardest was the constant slaughter of people through most of the generations covered by the book.
That took my mind to the Old Testament:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”  Psalm 122:6-7, written by King David.
How many generations of Jews have prayed that prayer, or Christians eyeing prophetic writings about the nation and that city? Did they pray in vain?

     Just a few days before Christmas, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, it may be well to join that ancient prayer and trust that one day the Prince of Peace will reign supreme and Jerusalem know prolonged peace.
20 December, 2011