The sun is out in Devon (today anyway) and Mad Dog is as pleased as anyone. I have spent some of the week at a Community Transport Conference in Manchester (any more of this and people will think I am a real manager) so thoughts are a bit random again. (No change there I hear you cry.)
Returning to Manchester was good. Had some nice times with family and friends in the evening – after working hard all day and networking for England in case my trustees are reading this. Stayed in the Midland Hotel which was very nice indeed. I managed not to touch room service or the mini-bar. A hotel breakfast is surely one of life’s lovely things. “Coffee or tea madam? Brown or white toast? Help yourself to the buffet.” These are some of the nicest words in the English language.
Anyway, I’m not the only one gallivanting. Head of House and Senior Sprog have just got back from looking at York University. The boy completely loved it and that’s where he wants to go. You must not think that my frequent hysterical sobbing means that I am remotely troubled by the fact that this is about as far north as he could go without leaving the country. I love York too but this seems a bit of an extreme course of action to make sure that we can all get tickets for the panto. (BTW – York Panto – best in the country. No discussion. Although any information in comments about York gratefully received) Senior Sprog’s results so far are good. He has the offer. He’s going I think.
Finally, some culture. I don’t want you to think that I’m any kind of expert on Shakespeare because I’m not. Believe me, you couldn’t be living here. Most theatre companies treat Plymouth like Narnia – only further away. But this week we were visited by the National Theatre who presented us with Hamlet. It was in modern dress, set in a kind of police state, giving it a completely different perspective. Rory Kinnear was as amazing as everyone said but there wasn’t a bad performance. I went with Junior Sprog and at half time when I asked her what she thought, she was so captivated, she could hardly speak. We actually stood up to applaud at the end and I haven’t done that since I saw the Funk Brothers at the Apollo in Manchester. Quite a moment.

Christian women are sometimes a bit iffy about feminist issues. But the fact is that if you are female and you have a mortgage, vote, expect equal rights in your marriage and the bringing up of your children, then you have benefited from the work done by women’s groups in the past. Watch this –  it seems the work continues…

There are some questions which have simple answers

  • The dog behaves like that just because he wants to
  • Most annoying Glee character is Mr Schuster (although he has a lot of competition)
  • Paul was the best Beatle
  • West Wing is the best piece of TV ever made.

However, when I look at this photo, I have do have one question which I don’t have the answer to

  • WHEN DID I BECOME THE FAMILY MIDGET? (or perhaps more shockingly – the family Anne Widecombe look-alike?)

This week school sent home eldest sprog’s last ever school report and the date for his last ever parents’ evening. And so, despite all my attempts to ignore the facts before my very eyes, I now have to accept that the Head of the House and my good self are parents to a young man. We are both slowly coming to terms with the realisation that he will probably never again pronounce the word “gloves” as “glubs”. He is unlikely to lie on his back with his feet in the air singing nursery rhymes (no matter how often we ask) He is now to be found shouting abuse at Question Time and insisting that his Thrash Metal cannot be heard three doors down. So as he leaves to check out universities, trailing the Head of the House (acting as his chauffeur) in his wake, I just wanted to draw your attention to the obvious. Time really does go so much faster that you could ever believe. Every moment has to be snatched , treasured, held to your heart and remembered. You probably know all of this and I probably know it too. It’s just like most things it becomes a lot more real when it affects me.
However I will always remember him the way he was when we first gave him sweet potato……..

It’s the last day of February and, at last, Spring may be on the way. These are in our garden, well I say garden – its not Blenheim Palace but it’s our own little patch of pebbles. Just when you thought it might never get warm again you look and the little green shoots are poking through and suddenly there they are.

There are probably lots of deep spiritual things to be said about patience and all that but I just thought it looked pretty and I hope it signals a decent summer. Anyway the Head Gardener informs me that there is a night frost due and they could all be dead by Friday so best not to be too deep about it all I think.

Thinking about something completely different, you know how certain sports events have to be on the BBC so people who don’t have satellite don’t miss out. Well that should definitely include the Oscars. Because you can only watch the Oscars if you pay for Sky movies and ITS NOT A MOVIE! So I have been left with completely rubbish highlights on even more rubbish Sky Living. So no proper opening. etc. etc. DISAPPOINTED!

“Its not the load that brings you down – its the way you carry it.” – Lena Horne
“She’s right. You do need to bend your knees when you pick heavy stuff up” – Daughter who hasn’t quite understood what Ms Horne was referring to.

Here at Hargreaves Towers we are not blessed with acres of green but we do have the odd pot here and there, including this beauty. Its some kind of acer I think. we bought it a long time ago for Father’s Day. To say it has struggled to reach its potential is a bit of an understatement – mainly because it probably shouldn’t be in this small pot. Anyway, it does go a lovely colour in Autumn and has been known to become almost lush in the summer. What you can’t see in the photo is that, a few years ago, we began to hang things on the tree. Nothing much, just the odd memento from nice places we have been  – things we want to remember. Like I say though, when the tree is all lush – you can’t see anything hanging on it.

This is the tree at the moment. It’s not as pretty – I’ll give you that and the gardener should certainly be giving some thought to tidying up that back wall but – when its like this you can see all the hanging bits and pieces much clearer. All the memories are easier to see and despite the lack of attractive foliage, the tree has a certain charm (maybe only if you actually know what the ornaments relate to but that’s your problem, not mine.)
Anyway, it sort of made me think about something I had read from Spurgeon which I’ll post at the end. When things are bad and all we are struggling with stuff then somehow, when everything is stripped away, that’s the time to focus on memories and the good that God has done for you. The things that you know to be true because you have experienced it and maybe need to be remembered. Sometimes, it can feel like these past experiences are all you have left but if He did it then He can surely do it again. Spurgeon puts it much better than I can

There must surely be some precious milestone along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read a happy memorial of his mercy towards thee? What, didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now, and did he not restore thee? Wert thou never poor before, and did he not supply thy wants? Wast thou never in straits before, and did he not deliver thee? Arise, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and plait them into an ark, wherein thine infant–faith–may float safely on the stream. Forget not what thy God has done for thee; turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old. Hast thou never been helped in time of need? Nay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away. “Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old.”