Budapest Jollies 2

So I have told you about Thursday, and Sunday…We head on into Monday.

Actually, I made a mistake in the last post: we didn’t buy breakfast things on Sunday evening – we went out for breakfast on Monday, so we must have bought them on Monday evening. Our Monday breakfast consisted of a coffee and a mix between a brioche, a muffin and a doughnut with blueberries. Very healthy!

We had decided to take a free walking tour – free in the sense that, at the end, you gave what you thought the tour had been worth. This started in the same square as the Christmas market: we got rather over-excited when we arrived and saw what was on offer in the market – even though many of the stalls were closed up, as it was still only 10.00 inthe morning. We decided that we’d be visiting later!

There was a very large group of people waiting for the tour to start – finally there were three English speaking groups, and a Spanish group. Our tour guide, who we nicknamed the Elf, but who was actually called Lara, was very interesting, vivacious and knowledgable.

Here she is, standing on a wall, outside the Presidential buildings

The weather was beautifully sunny, but with a bitingly cold wind – felt most keenly as we crossed the Chain Bridge over the Danube. Here are some of the pictures I took:



The Elf told us that the tummy of the policeman (known as the “Fat Policeman”) is shiny because it is a tradition to rub it, not to bring good luck, but to hope that you will be able to have a full belly that day!

Outside the “White House”, which is where the President has his offices, up on the top of Castle Hill, there were two armed guards, standing to attention, like the guards at Buckingham Palace. Weilding sub-machine guns, and staring unsmilingly into the middle distance, they were very stern and off-putting

“See, how still they are”, Lara said,. We agreed.

“That’s because they’re waxworks!” Murmurs of surprise and admiration for the lifelike quality of these models – and then I saw the mouth of one of them twitch, before he gave a huge grin. Obviously he spoke English, & enjoyed Lara’s little joke!

The tour finished at the top of Castle Hill, on the Buda side of the river, so Jane & I decided to try to find somewhere to have lunch. There was a charming café which we liked the look of, in its own little garden, but it was full. We ended up in a coffee shop, but had a very good value meal of a ham-and-cheese toastie, and a platter of Hungarian meat and cheese. As this came with several bread rolls, and (slightly bizarrely) a tub of apricot jam we had pudding as well!!

We then went to the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is also on the top of Castle Hill. This site gives more information about what the Fisherman’s Bastion is – basically a viewing platform built for the people of the city to enjoy fine views over the city:


I’m sorry the photos are so rubbish – I was using my phone, as I’d forgotten to take my camera, and I’m not very used to using it for photos. Also I hadn’t yet  discovered how to zoom in on things!

Here’s one from Google:

Lara told us that this building was the inspiration for Disney’s logo – but I’m really not sure if she was having us on! It was still rather impressive though!

By now my feet were really complaining – the walk had been 2.5 hours, plus more wandering at the top of the hill – so we decided to take the bus back to the flat, and rest up before hitting the Christmas Market! Which is what we did.

We wandered down to the Market at about 6.30, and had a wonderful time strolling round and looking at the items on sale. There were some really beautiful things, and not a lot of the usual tat that you find at these events. A lot of the stalls contained genuine artisanal crafted items. Of course, we had a mug of mulled wine, which we sipped as we looked at everything.

In the centre of the Market were huge numbers of food stalls, selling such vazriety of food – sausage, goulash, duck legs, pork knuckle…Lots of delicious things, but we’d rather set our hearts on trying one of these:

traditional Hungarian flat bread, called Langos bread. This deep fried flatbread is a common street food in Hungary where it is served warm with sour cream and grated cheese, rubbed with garlic or garlic butter. It was a kind of doughnut batter (not sweet) and although it was quite tasty for the first few mouthfuls, it got very boring after a bit. I wished I’d chosen a sausage for my supper instead! Never mind!

We had another wander around, but stalls were starting to close up, so we walked back to the flat, via a supermarket for some breakfast supplies.

Christmas lights in Budapest.

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Budapest Jollies Part 1

Hello everyone!

Having told you about the “spiritual” side of my time in Budapest, I thought I’d share some of my not-so-spiritual time!

I arrived on the Thursday, the day before the retreat was due to start. There was another lady, Edith, who was in the same situation as me, so we arranged to meet at the airport, to share a taxi to the Retreat House. When I found her however, she’d already spoken to someone and had the route by public transport all worked out! By myself I don’t think I’d’ve been brave enough but with Edith we were intrepid! There was some moments of panic and tension when we weren’t sure (a) where to get off the bus and (b) if indeed the bus was travelling in the right direction but that got sorted by a helpful young woman with a GPS and good English!

The following day I wanted to just wander around Budapest, while Edith wanted to climb Castle Hill and various other high points – she is a lot fitter than I, so we travelled in on the bus together (we knew what we were doing this time!) and then split up. I wandered aimlessly but enjoyably around the Jewish Quarter, admiring the Grand Synagogue from the outisde, but not wanting to really “visit” anywhere, as I knew I’d be meeting up with my friend after the retreat.

I took photos of things that I thought might inspire some Zentangle patterns:

I thought the pattern at the top of the door rather interesting

This window on the Jewish Archive centre was also interesting

and I really liked this pattern around a window.

And I was right: they did inspire a piece of Zentangle art:

Not the best photo, but I think you can see how some of the patterns have been incorporated into the design.

I particularly admired one building, with a huge angelic figure outside it:

I can’t help wondering what the flats in these kind of buildings are like – shabbily chic? Bang up-to-date? Who knows…,

I paused for lunch, choosing a place that advertised Craft beer, and had Hungarian sausage, coleslaw and sweet potato chips, plus a beer.

As I was getting tired I decided to make my way back to the Retreat House, and spend some time reading & zentangling. Then the other participants arrived, and we started the Retreat.

On the Sunday, there were four of us who were staying longer, so we shared a taxi into the centre of the city, where Lee, Laurie and Paula had their hotel. I had the address of the airbnb which Jane & I had booked, but other than that had no idea where it was in relation to the hotel. I was more than willing to catch buses etc, although happily,  when we arrived at the hotel Lee’s GPS proved that the flat was just about 10 minutes walk away. So off I went, trundling my suitcase behind me, and finally found the address – amazingly, in the block that I admired on Thursday!!

Jane had already arrived, so we spent time catching up, which was lovely. We are lucky enough to have one of those friendships where you can just pick up as though you saw each other last week. But after an hour or so’s chatting we decided to go exploring.

We wandered – finding a small Christmas market (about 10 stalls) and really, really hoping that that wasn’t it. We did, however, have mulled wine and chimney cake:

Both of which were delicious

We wandered around and visited St Stephen’s basilica, rather lovely in the late evening gloaming – lots of candlelight glinting from the gold decoration within. Very hushed, with some meandering organmusic being played. It was a delight to sit in the beauty, with my good friend, who has been a Christian for as long as I have, in a place where Christians hgave worshipped for, oh hundreds of years (or so I thought. Eventually discovering that in fact the Basilica was relatively modern, being finished in 1905!)

We strolled around various souvenir and craft shops, already planning our future purchases – what fun to be with someone who enjoys browsing! Mr FD hates it, but in fact Jane & I did a lot of browsing together!!

We decided to eat in a Hungarian restaurant, and had Goulash soup, followed by chicken paprikash, and then pancakes. I meant to take photos, but forgot! A stroll back to the flat, via a small supermarket, to buy coffee, tea, cereal, milk and orange juice for breakfast,and wine, not for breakfast, and we spent the evening relaxing, chatting and planning the next day’s adventures. We were also very happy to discover that the Miserable Christmas Market that we discovered was only an offshoot from the main Christmas Market , located in another square. Tomorrow was planned!!

And you’ll hear about it in another post.

If you’ve got this far, you may be wondering about the Big & Scary news – well, I’ve been biopsied (once) and I have been told that I have a pre-cancerous nodule in my breast. Everyone is very keen to tell me that there’s nothing to worry about, and that, more-than-likely, it can be dealt with through surgery, and possibly radiotherapy. I have an appointment to see a highly-regarded breast specialist on Monday, and we will know more about timescales then. I will also have a more invasive biopsy to make sure.

Strangely, I have not been scared, or even really worried; “mildly concerned” might cover it. I have felt surrounded by love, concern and prayers, and God has never felt closer. All this year, I have believed that there was something big that God was going to ask of me, and I knew that the Retreat was going to play an important part in helping me deal with it. When I was asked to serve on the Transition Committee (involved in the search for a new Bishop for the Convocation) I thought that might be the Thing. However, more and more, I think that this health problem is the Thing. And the peace and renewal of an understanding of God’s love for me that was the main focus of the Retreat (for me) has really upheld me through these past weeks of uncertainty, and will continue to surround me through whatever is to come.

As I said in my last post, our mantra is “It is what it is (and we now know what it is), it will be what it will be, and we will get through it together”. Please, should you be of a praying ilk, would you continue to pray.



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Christmas Hygge

Thank you everyone for your good wishes. Still waiting.

In the meantime, here is a lovely Christmas song for you – especially if you are a prog rock fan (but if you’re not, don’t let that put you off. It’s beautiful…)-

Hygge by Tiger Moth Tales.

Sit by the fire, don’t be hungry or tired,

Come inside now, and out of the cold,

We’ve all been waiting to welcome you in,

Won’t you please come back home?

All should be near at this time of the year

There’s no need to be out there alone,

Now, as before, we’ll throw open the door,

Come on home.


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Hello everyone.

Sorry I’ve not been around much.

Some rather big and scary issues have raised ugly heads. Hopefully, they will turn out to be nothing, but we are Waiting and Seeing.

I will post Budapest photos when I work out how to transfer them from my phone (or rather, when Mr FD has the time to show me!!)

But for now, let’s thank God for all the good things he has given uis, and the fact that He is boundless in love and strength and justice.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.

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Thoughts on Budapest Retreat

Hello everyone! I’m back after a wonderful week away in Budapest. I had three days of retreat, at St Arnold’s Retreat House, followed by 4 days being a tourist with a friend.

The retreat was a Vocational Discernment retreat, with a group of about twenty five people from the convocation. It was led by a wonderfully inspiring man, the Revd Canon Mark Oakley, Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, and was entitled “This is my son, listen to him”

Mark is speaking at Greenbelt 2018 – if you’re going, don’t miss him!!

I’m not really sure what I’ve taken away from this time: I didn’t know what to expect when I went, but it wasn’t what it was (if you see what I mean!)

Mark Oakley is a poet, and a lover of poetry, and he introduced us to some wonderful poems. He talked compassionately and wisely, about “the collage of God”, about God as Love, about listening in the silence.

I took some notes about what he said, and they aren’t terribly coherent, but I shall include some of the phrases that I jotted down here. Maybe they will resonate with you.

  • When people are in my presence, how do I make them feel?
  • God loves us as we are. He loves us so much that he doesn’t want us to stay like that.
  • Jesus sees our full stops and changes them into commas. (That is to say, he sees and understands where our blockages are, and enables us to change, and to continue the “sentence”)
  • Live up to God’s voice that speaks of our worthiness, and don’t live down to the voices that speak of our failings.
  • God is the cause of our wonder.
  • God sees what is good, and true and beautiful in our souls.
  • Lord God, help me to find my true self so that I can find you.
  • Read between the lines (of scripture) and find the love.
  • When I let go of who I am I can become what I am meant to be.
  • We are here to give voice to God.
  • We are in danger of living unawkenede lives, surrounded by and listening to lies, both internal and external.
  • How can I think critically and live faithfully?
  • The rumour of God: we live as if it is true.
  • A life of faith, not certainty.
  • There are 2 bowls of water spoken about in the Gospels: that of Pilate – indifference and apathy – and that of Jesus – service to and love for others. Which bowl do we choose to pick up?

Some of the poems Mark led us to were beautiful. For copyright reasons I do not put them on here, but here are some links, with one line from each that really resonated for me:

The Real Work, by Wendall Berry :: It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

Let Evening Come, by Jane Kenyon :: Let it come, as it will, and don’t be afraid.

Love after Love, by Derek Walcott :: Sit. Feast on your life

Love, by George Herbert :: You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat

In the Dark, by Robin Fulton MacPherson :: Some things are best seen, unseen.

The Journey, by Mary Oliver :: One day you finally knew what you had to do…

And, finally, the poem that, I think, in the end, sums up what I learned from this retreat, (and sorry about the swear word in it)

Getting it across, by U.A. Fanthorpe :: I am tattooing God on their makeshift lives

Or…the easy messages Are the ones not worth transmitting

Or…They are the dear, the human, the dense, for whom My message is.

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Where have I been? Wiesbaden!

Well, I was clever enough to schedule my Desiderata posts (yes, I know…it’s not actually that clever at all!) for while I was away but the weekend of 19 – 22nd October I was in Wiesbaden. This was for the annual convention of the Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe and it was a great weekend.

The business part was fairly straightforward, and quite interesting at points – finding out what the various commissions and committees have been doing, how churches have been using grants and so on. The Bishop of the Convocation has tendered his resignation, so we are planning for the work of finding a new Bishop. I am on the Transition Committee – this will be the organisational powerhouse (?!) after the candidates have been selected. It’s rather exciting, but a little daunting too. I’m not sure quite what skills I hjave to offer yet, but I’m waiting to find out. At the moment the committee seems to be full to the gunnels of people who are willing to organise us all, so I’m sitting back to let it all go on around me. It will become clear later on, I’m sure.

The hotel where I stayed was really nice: modern, clean, comfortable – and not too expensive! I’d recommend the Hotel Motel One to anyone.

It was a tad “over-designed” in places – the seats for breakfast weren’t very comfy (but very stylish!) but that’s my only criticism. It was situated 1.5 km from the conference centre, so I was walking 3 km a day without thinking. And more when I had to return to the Centre to meet up during the evening. According to Map My Walk, my average speed was just under 13 min/km, but there was one time when I did 1.8 km at 10 min/km – I had fallen asleep in the hotel room, and was late for the bus to take us to dinner! I arrived at the meeting place at the same time as the buses – having missed Solemn Evensong.

The  meals out were great – the first night we went in groups to different restaurants. I chose a South American restaurant, and had a delicious steak! The Bishop’s Dinner (a bit posh) was in a restaurant overlooking the city, and we took this charming funicular up to the top:

Unfortunately, as it was dark, the views weren’t so great, but the twinkly lights were pretty. The restaurant was lovely – a buffet of cold starters, and then a huge choice of barbecued items, with potatoes and ratatouille. Dessert was ice cream, red berries and crème anglaise. The Bishop made a speech, we toasted people, and had a lovely time.

The Saturday restaurant was amazing – slightly bonkers, with various farming implements hanging from the ceiling, a showman of a chef, where you took your raw ingredients to a hot plate where they were cooked in front of you. The entertainment was from a talented group from the Wiesbaden Episcopal church. Sadly, I cannot find anything on t’internet but it was fab!

But, I think the highlight of the weekend had to be Revd Canon Michael Hunn, special envoy from the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. He gave two great keynote speeches.

The first was about The Jesus Movement – the name makes me cringe a little, but apparently it is the name Biblical scholars give to the very early church, before it was a church, when it was a group of people trying to live the way they had been shown by Jesus What this means for us now is explained in this link

The second talk that Michael Hunn gave started as he explained his son is a jazz musician. He compared being a leader in the church, and, in fact, being anyone in the church, to being a jazz musician.

In the jazz group, the music may seem improvised, but every player knows the basic tune so well that it is in their heart. They can play it in any key, at any moment. It is embedded within. So when the musicians play together they all have the same music in them.

In a jazz piece, the players then take a solo – they improvise and riff around the tune, always with the same basic melody, but playing it in their own individual style. A trombone player doesn’t play it as a pianist does, a saxophonist is different to a trumpeter…but whatever the style, whatever the instrument, the melody is always there at the heart of what they play. Each musician has their solo, when the rest of the band lets the other shine, and do their bit. Then after the solo the other musicians take up the tune, supporting and listening to the main player, almost throwing the tune to one another – again being “in tune” with everyone on the group is really important for this.

But all the way through, the important thing is that the tune, the melody, is embedded in everyone so they can hardly help but to play.

It was a really inspiring weekend.

And in a couple of weeks I’ll be in Budapest being inspired again – I hope!

This last week, my mum & my brother have been staying too. that was nice. I’ll tell you about it another time. I need to sort out October’s bills!

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Desiderata 17 & 18

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

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