Some dregs from the other teapot!(Aug 2009-April 2011)

In case they should get lost somewhere in the ether, I have collected some archived posts from my first blog (also “The View from the Teapot” which was with the Wibsite. These include:

My first blog post ever – Saying Goodbye to Pumpkin – Why I stopped walking dogs for the SPA – Meeting George for the first time – My 1,000 km cycle challenge – My road to Faith – plus many other highlights!!!!

So here we go:

one…

two…

three…

My very first Blog post:

August 24th 2009 “Hello World!”

Hello World indeed! This is the very first time I’ve ever blogged so who knows what will happen! I am a complete TechnoIdiot so will probably make MANY mistakes.

In fact I’ve already made one – when starting this, I wanted my user name to be Dormouse – as it is on other sites. But when initially logging on I put, for some reason really not known to myself, my real name. D’Oh. Thus the name of the Blog doesn’t really make much sense, whereas if I’d been Dormouse it would have done. As in Dormice and Mad Hatter’s Teaparty.  Can I change my User Name? Does anyone out there know?

I suppose View From The Teapot might work in other ways – I’m an EnglishMouse living in France – so there’s a “tea” link there in some way, as the French have no idea how to make a decent cuppa – or so Mr D says. I wouldn’t know – I don’t like tea…

Anyway. Here I am, just back from the vets with Pumpkin (Cat No 1) We got back from our hols on Saturday and noticed on Sunday that she was breathing funny and panting. She’s also been very quiet and subdued – not at all like Pumpkin, who is normally twice-as-bouncy as Tigger on a Really Bouncy Day. As this has continued we decided to take her to Mr NiceVet. And apparently she has a heart problem and may need to take tablets for the rest of her life. Now that is a pleasant prospect. Not. So I called in at Petit Casino on the way home to buy tuna and sardines in preparation for feeding her THREE tablets, morning and night, for 10 days. And then “nous verrons” (we will see). It could be that these sort out the problem, but maybe not.

So, with all this excitement – Vets, new blog and going to do a big shop at Géant supermarket, as well as 2 hours teaching not as much as I’d like but there you go!) – I think I need to stop. And go and cut up vegetables for a Spicy Beef Stir Fry (I bought too much steak yesterday, so we have to eat the rest of it today. It cst too much to be used in just one meal)

This is all terribly mundane. Does it matter?

*******

A post about the death of Pumpkin, our Best Beloved Cat

September 15th 2009 “Goodnight Sweet Cat…”

…and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

We’ve said Goodbye to Pumpkin, and she’s set off on her Very Big Adventure. We took her to the NiceVet who said that her temperature wasn’t good, her breathing had worsened, and, to be honest, we could see that she was weary of it all.

NiceVet was very gentle, giving her an injection so she went to sleep – the first proper sleep she’d had for days – and we could caress her and love her. Then he stopped her heart. We left her curled on his table – we don’t want to bury her, or have her ashes. We want to remember her as she was. We have a saying in the Dormouse family: “as mad as a box of frogs”. We shall change it in her honour: “As mad as a box of Pumpkins”

We had this reading at my father in law’s funeral. I hope it’s not disrespectful to Peter to post it here, and to change it just a little…

You can shed tears that they’ve gone, or you can smile that they have lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that they’ll come back, or you can open your eyes and see the memories that they have left you.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see them, or your heart can be full with the love  and fun that you’ve shared.

You can turn your back on life yesterday and on life tomorrow, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember them and only that they’ve gone, or you can cherish their memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what they’d want: smile, open your eyes love and go on.

If I know Pumpkin, she’ll already be playing Fetch with St Francis and St Roch and his dog. (I really will tell you about St Roch some day. He’s an excellent Saint.)

September 16th 2009: “One Man and his Dog

OK, so I’ve promised you the story of St Roch. I thought he was a local saint as he features in many of the local chapels/churches around here, but according to Wikipedia (that Fount of all Knowledge) he was born in Montpellier. He is apparently the patron saint of surgeons, apothecaries, road pavers, furriers,second-hand clothes dealers, wool carders and is the Protector of Animals. (I can’t help wondering exactly how a saint becomes linked to certain trades… I understand the surgeons/apothecary link, as you will after Storytime, but Road menders?! It beats me…)

Anyway, Saint Roch was a rich young man, who was orphaned at an early age. He was studying to be a Doctor, but, as all good saints do, decided to give it all up and become a pilgrim and give everything to the Poor. He travelled through Italy and when the country was ravaged by the Plague he stayed and helped the sick and dying. When St Roch contracted the plague he heroically emulated the good people of Eyam (although as he came first, they emulated him…) and separated himself from the local populace and went to live in a forest. Unfortunately the sick and dying (and their relatives) weren’t terribly grateful for his thoughtfulness, and shunned him, so he was slowly dying of both plague and starvation.

But, never fear, Gentle Reader, because there was a dog (let’s call him Spot) who decided to help St Roch, providing him with bread taken daily from the table of his master. Without this, St Roch would surely have died. One day, Spot’s master, intruiged by the disappearing bread, followed him into the forest and found St Roch, still, I assume, plague-ridden. Spot’s master took St Roch into his home, and the saint was miraculously cured of the plague.

Although cured, he was horribly disfigured by the plague, and is now always shown demonstrating a plague scar (on his leg) and usually revealing blue undergarments. Spot stayed with him for the rest of his life, and there is apparently a saying “c’est saint Roch et son chien” (“They’re like St Roch and his dog”) when talking about two inseparable friends.

(you really don’t want to know how long it took me to work out how to insert this photo the right way round!) This is a statue of St Roch and Spot at Notre Dame l’Hermitage. He’s got his cockle shell for pilgrimage, his blue knickers and he’s showing off his plague scar. And look! There’s Spot with his barm cake for St Roch.

At Cervieres (mentioned in a post a while back) there’s a stained glass window showing St Roch and Spot. In it Spot appears to be carrying not a barm cake, but rather a Jammy Dodger. So now we talk about St Roch and his Holy Jammy Dodger. I hope that’s not blasphemous!

As St Roch is the Protector of animals, and as I’m sure Spot’s got into Heaven, I reckon Pumpkin will be having fun with them all. I have a picture in my mind of God trying to do God-like things, and Pumpkin around his feet, mithering and meeowing for attention as she always did.

“For Heaven’s sake, Pumpkin, go and mither Jesus for a while. He’s not doing anything important!”

******

Musings about cat food (as you do..!)

March 6th 2010: “A Cat Food Called Ron”

A special Hello to Ian & Agatha who have been discussing French cat noises – last post Ian asked about the noises a cat made in France. I wrote a post replying, but – because I was in a hurry – I messed up the quoting tool and the whole post was a mess. So I deleted it. Agatha’s already mentioned the ronn-ronning, but here (hopefully tidied up a bit!) is the post I was going to post earlier in the week…

Oh…I go to find the draft and I find I’ve deleted it!!! I really am not very good at this Techno-lark, am I? It’s a good job Mr D is my Very Own IT Technician!

So, to recap: To me, French meeowing and meeping sounds just like English meeows and meeps, but my on-line French dictionary says (and this is where I messed up last time. Let’s see if I can do any better this time round…):

meow‘ found in these entries:

French:

meow: WordReference English-French Dictionary © 2010

meow (cats’ sound) miaulement nm
meow (like cat) miauler v
meow (cats’ sound) miaulement nm

Agatha’s mentioned “ron-ron” which is the French “purr”. We refer to the dictionary again:

purr:

E

Pocket Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary © 2005 Oxford University Press:

purr

  1. noun (of cat, engine) ronronnement m.
  1. intransitive verb (cat, engine) ronronner.
So it appears that Parisian cats might be understood by the more provincial felines, but whether they would understand the local patois I don’t know. I suspect the Parisian cats might be a little supercilious and look down their whiskers at the locals. But maybe I’m stereotyping here!
The reason I mention cat food in the title is that there used to be a French cat food called Ron-Ron. Manda*, our cat when we lived in Milton Keynes, used to really like this cat food, so whenever we came back from holiday we would bring her some as a present…
“So, Dormouse, what souvenirs did you bring back from France?”
“A bottle of wine and ten tins of cat food…”
Sadly, Ron-Ron no longer appears to exist – globalization has even taken over the pet food world, with Sheba, Felix, Whiskas and Go-Cat/Friskies being the main choices available.
*Manda lived to a ripe old age of 19 1/2 despite beiong diabetic for the last 5 years of her life, and neding 2 insulin injections a day. She was a beautiful “calico” cat.
OK. Let’s see if I’ve messed up the quotes this time! Press “Publish”, Dormouse!
*****
Another post about cats! This time the kittens of which I had been promised first pick. Also, asking for help with names
April 23rd 2010 “The Kittens Have Landed

Look! Look!

IMG_0463

There is a black-and-white one, with a teeny-tiny white bit at the end of her tail.She appears to be the adventurous one, clambering all over Mama. She is gorgeous, but too much like Pumpkin. I’d be expecting too much from her. There’s a tabby who is very dinky, and a light ginger male. We are thinking the light ginger one might become Our Kitten.

IMG_0460

So, we need to think about names. You gave some good suggestions, but we’re thinking quite seriously about Paprika. But a new off-the-wall idea came to me as I was buying a red rose for Mr D today. I was buying a red rose because it is St George’s Day today and he wants to be patriotic at his meeting tonight. So we could call the wee kitty George, as he was born on St George’s day (at 3.30 a.m.) – or Will as it’s purportedly (sp?) Will Shakespeare’s birthday.

IMG_0459

So what name do you Wibloggers think?

  • George
  • Paprika
  • Will
  • Pugsley

Or can you suggest any others?

****

A post about the reason I gave up my short career as a volunteer dog walker for the SPA.

September 11th 2010 “My Version of River Dance”

is more like river flop. Let me explain…

I think you are all a bit behind me on the God-dog front. When I got back from holidays, WMD had been adopted. So I chose a new dog called Youpi (who was a Bison Frisée (or is that a large cow-like creature with a curly lettuce?!) ) But as there were people looking to adopt a dog, and were interested in Youpi, I took out another cheeky chap, with the unlikely name of Tooraloora – or something equally bizarre. Anyway, yesterday I went to take out Youpi, and found that s/he (I never got to find out!) had been adopted! Never mind, I hadn’t exactly bonded with him/her, so I chose to take out a young labrador cross, called Gavroche.

Getting him out of his cage was tricky enough, as his companion was also determined to come with us. At one point, Gavroche was outside the cage, on his lead, while I was inside, with the door closed, hanging onto the lead, and trying to fend off companion, who was howling mournfully, while pawing at my legs, desperate to join Gavroche. I eventually managed to escape and Gavroche and I trotted off for our walk. He was splendidly well behaved – but a little strong – and was very good when I gave him a treat, sitting and waiting until I handed it to him.

So, as I say, he was well behaved, but obviously wanted to explore the river that we were walking beside. But there was a 4m drop down and no safe way of letting him go. He kept darting off, sniffing and trying to find a way down, and I kept hauling him back. Eventually we discovered a slope down to the river and Gavroche washopeful. I started to gingerly make my way down the rather slippy slope. At one point I went on my bottom, making a spectacular mud slide down my jeans. I struggled to my feet and was just thinking that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, when Gavroche couldn’t hold back his excitement and made a plunge for the river. As I was already a little unsteady on my feet, and the slope was slippery, I couldn’t haul him back and he took me off my feet, pulling me face first into the river. I ended up sitting in the river, waist deep in sandy water, having bashed my face and knees on rocks, and twisted my ankle in the process. I later discovered that I’d hit a rock so hard with the corner of my glasses, that the arm of them was driven into behind my ear, leaving me with quite a nasty gash there, and a red line across the bridge of my nose. I sat, shocked for a second or two and then I just howled for a couple of minutes, while the dog (after his first joyous splashing about) sat and looked at me. After a bit, I remembered my mobile and my watch – both in my pocket. Luckily both were okay. But here I was hurt, shocked and quite some way from the SPA centre.

So what did I do? Phone them? No – I couldn’t explain where I was so I couldn’t. Retrace my steps? No – though why, I’m not sure…maybe my scrambled brain thought I’d gone too far – though as I was on a new walk I didn’t actually know the route back to the centre… I decided to carry on with the walk…So hobbling on my ankle, bawling like a two year old and hiccupping I started to walk.

Poor old Gavroche was trying to have a good walk and kept trying to pull me towards interesting smells; I could hardly walk by now and couldn’t keep up with him. So the poor thing kept getting jerked back on his lead as I sobbed and pleaded “No, Gavroche, no – come back”.Jerk. “I can’t do this”. Pull.

I struggled past a house where someone watched my faltering progress as his dog barked for France. He worked out something was wrong and came over to me. I tried to be very sensible and spoke in my best French. He offered  to drive me to the centre, but I’m too wary of getting in cars with strange men -although having seen the state I was in when I finally got back, I can’t imagine he had any designs on me – mud/tear/blood streaked face, filthy dripping jeans & T-shirt… I was also concerned (for some reason) that he had bare feet. So, refusing him,  I hobbled on, taking an hour to walk the 1.5 or so km back to the centre – all the while hoping that he’d drive up behind me and get me in the car – because by then I’d’ve accepted a lift. Or that he would’ve phoned the centre and they’d come for me. But no. I finally got back, whereupon several volunteers appeareded, clucking over me, taking Gavroche and guiding me to sit down . And I collapsed into a weeping pile of uselessness.

Somebody ( possibly a vetinary nurse!) strapped me up and washed me down a bit, and decided that I could well have torn some ligaments in my ankle. And said could I get someone to collect me? Er, no – we live 70 km away. I’m afraid I’m on my own here! Luckily we’ve got cruise control on the car, so driving the motorway wasn’t too difficult. My braking was occasionally a bit hard as I couldn’t press gently, but on the whole it was fine. Our friend, the nurse, has checked me over, and while I’m still sore, I’m generally not too bad today (much less stiff than I expected, to be honest) Sleeping was a bit uncomfortable, as I woke everytime I moved positions, but thankfully it was not worse than it could have been…

Next time I’m taking out a chihauhau.

******

A very dear friend of ours died. Here’s what I wrote:

January 7th 2011: “RIP Paul Perret”

For those of you who have been praying for Paul and Danièle, thank you.

Paul died this morning at 3.00am. He didn’t suffer very much. Please pray for Danièle, for their children Sylvain, Luc, Lydie and Isabelle, for Paul’s parents, family and friends.

I saw him last Friday and I’m happy to say that I gave him a letter telling him what his friendship had meant to me. I had been going to”do it another day” but something prompted me to do it then. I’m glad I did as that was the last time I spoke to him.

On Wednesday he forwarded one of “those” e-mails to me. You know the sort, with Fw:Fw:Fw:Fw in the subject box. I didn’t read it but I didn’t delete it. Reading it now, the theme of the slide show is: “Les choses les plus precieuses ne peuvent pas etre achetées ou construites par l’homme. Elles sont les rires, les sens, et l’amour” (Rough trans: The most precious things can’t be bought or built by man. They are smiles, the senses, and love.” )

I am so very glad that I knew him. But it was not for long enough…

And for the funeral:

January 10th  2011“Saying Goodbye”

We have had a sombre weekend – Clare and I visited Danièle on Saturday. She was surrounded by her family, but her desolation was evident. “What will I do? What will I do?” she repeated… Her utter dependence on Paul (and his on her) was clear to all of us.

Another friend wrote to me: J’ai annoncé aux enfants cette nouvelle qui est, pour eux, très tristes, et surtout, ils se demandent comment Mme Perret va orienter et adapter sa “nouvelle” vie ; ils ont tous les 4 connu le “couple” qu’ils faisaient ensemble. (TR: I told the children (they are aged  between 15 and 24) which is , for them, very sad, and above all they wondered how Mme Perret was going to adapt to her new life. All four of them knew the “couple” who did everything together)

I am sure this is the most difficult thing for any spouse left: adapting to being one where you had always been two. Especially if, like Paul and Danièle, you had hardly spent a night apart (1 week in 40 years of marriage.)

I went to church yesterday – the first time in about 3 months – and for most of the service I sat huddled in my corner and wept. I did manage a prayer at the Eucharist, but most of the time I didn’t do too well. And then this morning was the funeral: first at church, where there were many, many people, and then here, in St Just, at the cemetary. The eulogies were very moving, especially their older daughter Isabelle’s, as she spoke of Paul’s faith, and how he had taught her, as an earthly father, what the love of our heavenly father can be. The words that kept recurring in describing Paul were: faith, strength, justice, integrity, kindness, and love.

He has been buried in the new part of the cemetary – the nicest part, I think, with grass and wooden steps, instead of the formal stone tombs and gravel paths and stone steps. There will be a simple slab, but I like the thought that, instead of flowers  at Toussaints  those who visit will take a pebble and start to build a little cairn in memory. Paul loved geology and I know of two people inspired to follow a profession in geology by him; it would be fitting if we left pebbles…

At the graveside, one of the church members read a passage from Habakkuk. He said that when he heard of Paul’s death he oened his Bible, and it fell open at a passage he and Paul had discussed. It talks of a desert, which Paul had compared to his illness, but then ends with a cry of faith and love for God. Rest in peace, cher ami

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

******

A piece of writing inspired by a stay at The Beams Chambres d’hotes. Too complicated to explain how it came about…

February 20th 2011 “For Maggie who will never know

Somewhere, deep in the French countryside, lives Monsieur Jacques.

He has a tiny cabin, close to a pond where a flotilla of ducks move about the water, gently quacking in the spring sunshine. Close at hand he can hear the chickens clucking and tutting to each other as they scratch in the dust and argue over a  juicy worm. And in the field next door lives Henri, the friendly goat.

As all goats do, Henri eats most things. Unlike most goats, Henri is particularly partial to bananas. Each evening, as the sun drops below the church spire on the hillside opposite, M Jacques collects the browned, leopard spotted banana that the local greengrocer gave him. (“For Henri, m’sieur, the greengrocer whispers shyly, as he hands the fruit over every morning) He tucks it gently into his breast pocket, gnarled end peeping out from behind the carefully folded spotted handkerchief, and then strolls towards the field to feed it to Henri.

As M. Jacques approaches, Henri heaves himself to his feet. He knows that there is a treat for him. He watches M. Jacques intently as the banana is peeled and then, on gentle outstretched hand, is offered to him. Henri’s soft lips nibble at the banana and his gooseberry eyes shine with the pleasure. Finally comes what is for Henri the best part of all – the skin. He chews thoughtfully, all the while savouring the taste of this, his evening treat.

As the last morsel is devoured, M. Jacques tips his hat to the contented creature, and slowly meanders back to his cabin, where a glass of Guignolet is already poured and awaits him on the small lace mat, made by his late wife.

*******

 I decided to set myself a cycling challenge: here’s the post about it:

February 20th 2011: One Thousand kilometres for 1,000 Euros

I’m committed to this now, having (a) announced it to the Cyclo Club today and (b) received some money towards my efforts. So let me tell you about it.

As you may have gathered, I’m not exactly keen on exercise (or anything, for that matter, that requires an effort!). However, being kinda porky, I know I need to do some exercise; but I know myself: I won’t do it just for the sake of my health. I need to have a reason. The last time I did serious training was when I was doing a Cycle Challenge of 800 km in 3 days (that was relay. I didn’t do it all myself) and I knew that I’d be letting people down if I didn’t put in the effort.

So, this year I’ve set myself a challenge: to cycle 1,000 km in 6 months. It’s a challenge for me – working out at between 40 and 50 km per week – but not so much of a challenge that it’s not achievable (albeit with a bit of effort) But that wasn’t enough. I needed a reason why I had to do it. Which is where the 1,000€ comes into it. I’m asking people to sponsor me to complete the 1,000 km, and the money raised will be going to this school, the Chisomo Community Trust school. This is a charity supported by a friend of ours, who spends half the year here in St Just, and the other half out in Zambia, helping build the school.

My 6 months starts on Tuesday 1st March and runs until Wednesday 31st August. To that end I’ve joined the Cyclos of St Just, so I’ll be going out with them on Saturday afternoons (when will I watch the Corrie omnibus, she wails plaintively) plus trying to do at least one other ride per week. I’m terribly unfit, so I’m thinking that for the first couple of months this is going to be a real struggle, but it’s something that I do want to do. If only for the school. And my pride, as I’ve told so many people I’m going to do it!!!

If you’d like to sponsor me I’d be very, very grateful. However, I am aware that to most of you I’m just some bod you know through t’internet. For all you know I might be planning to run off with all your money and go on a cruise around the Carribean. So, if you would like to give money to support the school but don’t want to send it to me, then please, by all means, send it to the address given on the site, but please let me know how much you have given so I can publish it on my totaliser.

Go, Dormouse, go!!

Date Distance cycled Distance to go Money raised Money to go
27.02.11 0 1,000 20€ 980€
 ******

 Last one (for now!!) – This is one of my Pauses in Lent from 2011. I think it’s interesting because it tracks those who helped me in my road to where I am now.

April 2011: The Road to Faith

WARNING: This is a long post. You may need cups of tea, GIN, chocklit cake and cucumber sandwiches to get through it all!!!

I was wondering yesterday what I should blog about this week on A Pause In Lent. I remembered that Floss had mentioned her Gratitude Journal in an earlier post, and I’d asked her what it was, and how it worked. I’m guessing (not too difficult, I suppose!) that it is a journal in which she records the things she is grateful for. (You can just call me Sherlock Holmes!) And the thought popped into my head: who am I grateful for?

Of course, I’m grateful for Mr D, who is my rock, who looks after me so well (doing things for me that I don’t really think of, or can’t be bothered doing!) and for my family. But I specifically wanted to list and remember those who have had a part in my Christian journey.

So there has been my family: my Nana Disley who took me to Sunday School at County Road Methodist Church – a great Methodist church, huge, with a gallery, a basement where Sunday School took place, and loads of offices where Sister Somebody (who I remember dressed like a modern nun, but who can’t have been, not in a Methodist Church!) used to let me play with the things on her desk. Sadly, County Road has now been demolished, and I can’t find a photo of it on the internet. We (my sister, brother and I) used to go over to Nana’s every Sunday for the day, while my parents had a day to themselves; then they’d come over, have tea with us and take us back home.  Of course, my parents – probably more mum than dad, also played a big role, as after Nana moved to live next door to us in Aintree, I went more to Old Roan Methodist Church, which is the church that Mum went to.

The building on the right is a more modern addition. The large church hall you can see is the part that I remember. Here the two ministers that had the biggest effect on me were Eddie Someone and Daniel Someone Else. I feel bad that I can’t remember their surnames, and my mother would be ashamed of me! Eddie was the minister who led me through to my being accepted as a member of the Methodist Church and Daniel was a charismatic speaker. But even through the process of becoming a member, I hadn’t really made a full commitment to Christ. I was still exploring what Christianity meant, I hadn’t actually said a heartfelt “Yes” to God. At ORM there was also a Grande Dame, Betty Crooks. She tutored countless of us through the Scripture Exams, and was an amazing woman of great faith. And Norma & her husband Dave who held a group for young people – giving us the chance to talk about faith and life in a safe, secure environment.

That came after a little more exploration. The Gideons came to our school, and I received, as did all my year group, a small New Testament. In it was the invitation to contact the Organisation if you had questions. I did. Lots of them. So I wrote to the group, and received a lovely letter from a member who lived over in South Liverpool. She invited me to her home to discuss my questions. Although mum was a little embarrassed that I’d gone to a complete stranger with my questions, rather than to her, or to members of  ORM, she let me go to visit. Thanks mum, for giving me that freedom. The woman – I can’t remember her name – helped me still further down the pathway.

Finally, one bright May day (26th May, 1977, I think . I’m sure of the day, but not the year) at the C.U. at school, I said the final “Yes”. Thank yous go to the girl who led the group, and to the member of her charismatic housegroup who was there that day, and who led me to the decision. My friend, Jane, who usually came to CU wasn’t there, but a few days later, coming with me to the housegroup, she also made the commitment. Thanks go to her for her unfailing support and love for me. She is very good at remembering to send me a card on my “birthday” – I’m afraid I’m not so good at remembering – and through the years she has given me much encouragement in my faith. I went to the House Church for about a year – covering my head in worship, singing songs which would probably now make me gag, and accepting that women should remain silent…While I now would find this worship style a complete anathema to me, I am eternally grateful to the group for their welcome and their nurturing of a young Christian soul.

When I went to college, in Winchester – then King Alfred’s College, but now The University of Winchester – I joined the CU. However, as my first year studying Religious Studies continued, I started asking more questions about the very evangelical, non-liberal stance of the group. Because KAC was a CofE college, there was a chapel on site, and a fantastic chaplain, who became a good friend.So, Norman that fantastic chaplain,is another person I want to thank, as he helped me not be afraid of asking questions, and doubting.

The chapel – which is now a “Learning Café” Sigh.

Two Ians also helped me in my walk in faith. One has gone on to become a Muslim, which came as a surprise, as he was quite a long way “up the candle”. The other – well, I can’t really say too much, simply as it would reveal too much about him; even though nobody would know who he was, I don’t feel at liberty to elaborate on details. Suffice to say, his struggles taught me how to cling onto God even when going through the darkest of days.But both, in their different ways, helped me shape my beliefs.

After the first year, I started to be less involved with CU, and more involved with the more liberal chapel, although I still would like to acknowledge the contribution that the CU made to my growth. At KAC, there was a silent retreat every year at Alton Abbey

Here is a link to their home page.

At Alton I began to learn to listen to God a little more. Thank you to the welcoming community of monks there.

Leaving KAC, I moved to Maidstone for a year,which is where I met Mr D. He’s not a Christian, but is a theist, but has never discouraged me in any way from my faith. Instead he has been there to support me as I explored my faith and became more involved in church. I think it hasn’t always been easy for him, as some of my Christian friends have not “approved” of the fact that I married a non Christian, and tried, very clumsily, to convert him. so, thank you, Dear Mr D for your support in my Christian journey.

I didn’t really find a church where I was comfortable, but when I went to live in North London, I started going to Lindsay Park Baptist Church where the folk were friendly, welcoming and very, very Baptist (!!) Thank you to Robert, the Minister, and to so many people there for their nurturing – sadly, though, here was where I found people who were quite opposed to my engagement and later marriage to Mr D. A very good friend Tracy who I’ve now lost contact with, was a great support as she was going out with a non Christian too. Thanks to her, to Andrew & Nikki, and to others who were more accepting. It was here that I was baptised by full immersion – now I kind of feel I was coerced into it a little, but at the time it was a powerful experience. Again, thanks to Mr D for supporting me in this.

On to Milton Keynes, and the Ecumenical Church movement. In the new city churches were working together – so the church I went to was affiliated to the Anglican, URC, Methodist and Baptist churches. Here it is

Here was where I think I really grew. I owe a huge debt of thanks to the Minister who was there at the time, Dorothy, a URC minister who was very wise and supportive, and to her husband Keith. Both of them challenged me enormously, maybe Keith more than Dorothy, but both had a real “doing” faith. I always felt that there was something “edgy” about Keith’s faith, and this really made me think. It wasn’t always comfortable, but it was always challenging. Also Keith shared my love of acting, and he starred opposite me in a production of “Educating Rita”. I was Rita, he was Frank – we were great!!! With him, I performed in many plays, including “A Man for ALL Seasons”, “Lark Rise”, several versions of Mystery plays, and a play, the name of which I’ve forgotten, about Julian of Norwich.

Dorothy was the one who supported me as our marriage went through a rocky patch, giving me someone to talk to. She also encouraged me to train as an LLM (Licensed Lay Minister) and who supported me as I learned and grew. The LLM was the ecumenical, “new” name for the lay ministers in the Diocese of Oxford. We trained using the Methodist Lay Preachers course, but our work was recognised by all of the 4 churches.

At Holy Cross there was Phyllis who was a Reader (definitely a Reader. Not an LLM. A staunch & proud Anglican, but very open to ecumenism too) She was a pocket dynamo: I believe she was about 65 when I met her, but she had the energy, the get up and go of a person half her age! When Dorothy left, and there was an interregnum, she & I led all the services. But she did everything else that a Minister did, as well. An amazing, kind and honest person. Thank you Phyllis for your love and support.

Thanks go to those who organised the trip to Iona. Oh! That was a real time of growing for me. I’ve mentioned it in another Pause, I think. A real “thin” place, Iona. If you’ve not been, I really would recommend it. A beautiful place of reflection, history, creativity. Fantastic. Thanks go to the team who made us so welcome and the people who led the group meetings that were thought provoking. And to my God Son Joe who shared the week with us.

Later on, I moved parishes and started going to a different church, at Woolstones:

Unfortunately the church went through a very difficult time, with a real split in the congregation, a destructive Vicar and a danger that it would be closed down. In my opinion, one man who held the church together at that time, a retired Methodist (I think) minister, James. He joined the church with his wife, and managed to be peacemaker, despite the Vicar turning against him, and so many terrible things that had an effect on his health. A huge thank you to (and for!) James and his encouragement of me. He kept me sane in the maelstrom that was going on at the church.

And then we moved here to France. And through a strange series of coincidences (or maybe there’s no such thing as coincidences!) I ended up at the Eglise Reformée in Thiers.

So many people here have encouraged me and blessed me, but I think my biggest Thank You is for Danièle and Paul. If you follow this blog, you will have read about Paul’s death early this year, which was a great blow. But he had a great influence on me, showing what a true Christian is. As he suffered and faced death he was never afraid, but always trusted God.

The congregation at Old Roan Methodist are still amazingly welcoming when I go back and continue to encourage me. The congragation is dwindling a little, but they are still strong in their faith. Sothank you to the members at ORM for your welcome, and your faith.

And now, there are some Blogging friends to add to the list. Thank you for your wise words, insights and encouragement through this Pause in Lent. Thank You Floss for leading my thoughts towards  gratitude for those who have directed me along this path that is my Christian faith. And thank you to all fellow travellers, those who walk with us for only a short distance, and those who are by our side for a long time. May God bless us all.

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One Response to Some dregs from the other teapot!(Aug 2009-April 2011)

  1. Pingback: What I’m wearing: Friday at work | View from the Teapot

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