Thursday, 29 January 2015

Rainbow Alert!

"Amber alert!"
Outside large flakes of snow danced hypnotically under the orange glow of the street lamp.
Inside, the whiteness was paper,
sifted into that which was to be burnt,
filed or recycled.
The process was not silent.
I lobbed a few unwanted items in the direction of the bin,
and missed.

"Black alert!"
The more we tidy, the more clutter we appear to gain.
It always surprises me how much it is possible to lose in a cupboard or on the shelf of a bookcase...
Odd gems come to light, an Order of Service from a family wedding nearly thirteen years ago!
"Who is Terence?" asks Abi. Then she understands "Ah!  Terry!"
They look so young.
Trite, but true.
I count the books on a shelf - 30.
I count the shelves, and calculate that that we have about 450 books.
Most of them are mine.
Abi also has books...
The 60+ that left for the charity shop today were just a drop in the ocean,
or to put it more precisely, clutter on the staircase.
Rarely read and mainly outdated.
We surround ourselves we things that we do not need.
When we have been away in our small caravan, I feel quite liberated,
and fantasise about minimalistic living, unencumbered by possessions.
Then I remember that my small caravan always has far too much stuff in it...
What effect do my possessions have on me?
At times it is as if possession is a pin, that keeps me in place.
I am unsure if this is a bad or good thing.
I long to be liberated, but as I sift through, items demand my interest.
"Remember me!" they declare, dragging me back 5, 10, 15 or more years.
An old name badge from work...
An odd sock - what???
Christmas templates
A small plain candle...
A strange money box - who or why?  The bung is perishing...
My first ever Bank Statement from the the departed Yorkshire Bank...I wasn't rich then either!

Blue alert!
The realisation of how much stuff I have to sort through is overwhelming.
I could just shut myself away in the now half empty cupboard under the stairs,
climb in the hammock and ignore the world,
but that would not solve anything.
Meanwhile, if I managed to climb in to the hammock without doing myself a mischief,
I would probably do my self some serious damage when I wanted to extricate myself from my string cocoon!
Anyone want a hammock....

Red alert!  
Why didn't I begin this process years ago!
Why do I trap myself within all this clutter?
Why do I find it so hard to let go, and move on...

Brown alert!
I realise I have been eating chocolate.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Year Before School

I have been pondering on friendship, and how much of it is purely based on chance.  If we do not meet a person then they cannot be a friend.  How does friendship develop beyond first acquaintance?  Some people we relate to easily, other friendships develop out of a mutual acceptance - we can spend time together without driving each other round the bend.

My parents moved into their brand new house in the late 1950's.  By the early 60's when I was born, most of the surrounding houses had two, three or four children.  In the houses immediately around us,  girls predominated.   However, for the last 6 months or so before I began school, I did not play with the girls.  They were heavily into dolls and prams, and I wasn't.  Instead my memory tells me that I spent quite a lot of time with the boy who lived next door but one, who was and always will be 10 days older than me.  Clive was an only child, much loved and adored, brought up to be a credit to his parents, and to be polite and considerate to all.  I was the third child of four, clothed where possible in hand me downs and used to fighting my own corner.  We were probably very good for each other.  

Clive's mother used to give us lectures of children who had explored drains and drowned.  It didn't stop us lifting the covers and peering down at the mysterious depths, watching the flow of liquid below... probably not the most hygienic of past times!  

Clive's dad ran the transport depot for the local electricity company, and so they had all the latest electrical gadgets including a TV.  Sometimes I was invited in to watch children television. Jackanory was OK, but I found Thunderbirds to be quite bizarre! The drop down mouths and puppet strings were rather off putting, for a child more accustomed to the pictures my imagination conjured up during Listen with Mother, while my own Mother washed up and enjoyed the peace of her own thoughts.

I remember a TV sitting on the floor of our front room and looking at it wistfully and asking if it could be turned on.  However the horizontal hold was dodgy.  It was only turned on for 1960's satire which was on long after the Archers theme tune heralded my nightly departure up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire. One day my Mother got fed up with it cluttering up the place and the dustmen took it away.  It was not replaced until my Gran came on an extended visit several years later, while her new home was decorated. She left behind 2 armchairs and several other pieces of furniture. During her stay my elder brother managed to land an impressive number of paper airplanes on top of her wardrobe.

One day when Clive and I were completely engrossed in some game, when two teenagers walked past, and commented on the healthy colour of my friends cheeks. 
"Hello rosy!" they greeted him  
"That is MY name!" I thought indignantly, but they were gone

Too soon the time came to start school.  Despite being in the same class, our social circles widened and our friendship never really regained the momentum of the summer before school. Now both houses are sold, our parents are no longer alive and we are now just shadows of the past, filed in a section of memory labelled 'childhood'.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Operation Half Landing

Todays challenge was to clear the half-landing.

For years the half landing has been the depository for books that were regarded as of lesser importance, but which we didn't have the heart to dispose of.  The collection grew and grew until it reached way above the bottom of the mirror!

Todays task was to go through and sort. 90% of them are now destined for the charity shop.  I hate to think of books being destroyed, and would much prefer them to go to a new home - however demand for french fiction, outdated cookery books and 1980's encyclopaedias is limited.  'Bodice rippers' and 'murder mysteries' do not abound in this house, so the average charity shop was not the place to send them. Some will be recycled, others will be destined for a charity shop specialising in books, which hopefully can offer them the potential of a new home.

As I went through the volumes, it was as if I was looking back through my whole life and before. I opened up a photo album and there was my maternal Grandfather, looking just as I remember him, sat on one of his camping chairs, enjoying the summer sunshine in his immaculately tended garden. Holiday photos from Suffolk and Devon. Family groupings, including a rare one of Gran with her three children - my father and his two sisters. Taken by me at my insistence, to record the first time I had seen them together.  Photos of my parents, grand parents and great grandparents that I didn't remember seeing before - the ones of my mum as a child remind me very much of her grand daughter, Sian.

In time I plan to scan all these and put them online, so that all members of the family will have access to them, for this is not just my history, but the collective past of cousins, nieces, nephews and other more distant connections.

There were books too from the past.  A poetry book from my mothers school days. Old diaries.  The dark Blue Oxford Dictionary which was the families guide to spelling and definitions when I was growing up.  The creased, fragile pages and repaired spine testifying to the service it has given. How many more words have been added to the English language since it was printed?  I rescued it when we cleared my parents house, but will it survive the cull this time?

We have too many puzzles and games. Hard decisions will have to be made as to which ones survive. or shall we just roll the dice and sideline sentimentality?  I look at those boxes and memories are triggered.  The scrabble turntable, so that no-one was disadvantaged by the way the board faced.  Dominoes from Torquay, with which I learnt to play 'Fives and Threes'.

The day ends and the half landing is clear.  The mirror is no longer hidden behind towering boxes and books.  I remember that the first Christmas that Abi was in school I hung Christmas lights around this mirror. I spent ages with her, going round the colours until she could correctly identify red, blue, green, yellow and pink...After that she never had any trouble identifying colours!

Just when I think that there are no more surprises, I notice some original artwork.  Unseen for many years....

I doubt if even the artist knows if it is signed...

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Judgement Day!

And so the day came  for the great divide.
A day when some would be saved,
and others cast into the great waste paper bin of life.
But before each decision was made, there was to be a time of testing.
Each pen would be given the opportunity to show what it could do.

And so the testing began...

Soon the page began to fill up with random scribbles.
What you cannot see are the places where the pens did not work.
These pens were consigned to the dreaded wicker paper basket...

Yes, they were the basket cases...

Gradually the page began to fill up

and so did the bin...

Each one was given a fair opportunity.
A chance to leave its mark upon the page.

Sadly somewhere unable to do so,
or if they could,
their efforts could not be sustained. They were fading fast.
The time had come for them to go. In fact some may say that their departure was well overdue!

Some were good pens,
well constructed,
but I cannot be bothered to seek out new refills.
There are so many variations.

There was one exception.
A pen that did not work very well,
but was too beautiful to throw away.
Although it does not appear to have a brand mark,
it has a good weight and fits snuggly into my hand.
It also has a beautiful case of translucent blues and browns, that reminds me of the mysterious depths of the oceans.
For this pen I will make an exception and search for a refill.

I gaze sadly at the contents of the bin and notice a pop up colouring pencil.
That shouldn't be in there!
I retrieve it.

Hmmm, one rescued out of many - is this supposed to be symbolic of Abraham's pleas for Sodom? Genesis 18:16-33

One chosen for looks not ability - hardly a parallel with David being chosen in 1 Samuel 16:7.

One rescued out of the bin - hardly an accurate portrayal of the day of Judgement as in Matthew 25:31-33

Life doesn't have to be a parallel.
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.
Instead of looking for meaning, and bending scripture in ways it isn't supposed to go.
Listen to what God is saying.
Today he was saying "Start with the little things."
And so I did.

Meanwhile how do you test a white pen on white paper?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Keep us from just singing...

This evening I went to an event organised by Churches Together.  We met in a room where there were displays of activities that take place across the town or parts of the town.

We then moved into the church for a time of praise, and updates from various organisations such as Open the Book, Food Bank, charity work, chaplaincies, winter shelter and Messy church - who shared a little of what was happening and points for prayer, before we broke into small groups to pray.

It was good to come together and celebrate the great things that are happening across the town, but we were encouraged not just to sing about helping others, but also to act.

The retail chaplain also challenged us when he spoke about work taking place before the fall. This surprised me, I had always concentrated so much how things went wrong, that I hadn't really paid any attention to the part when things were happening as God intended.  Not having a Bible to hand I did later invite the speaker to expand on his point, and he reminded me that God put Adam & Eve in the garden to work, not just to wander around.  I had completely forgotten that bit!  I did look it up when I got home, and sure enough in Genesis 2:5 it says 'Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground,'  and reading on I discovered in v 15 'The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.'  It was only when mankind started following their agenda, not God's, that things went wrong, and they got booted out of Eden. it was only after this that work became a battle not a joy.
 “Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17b-19.

We are made for work, not idleness, but what work is God calling us to do?  I found myself listening to all the presentations, and thinking, how can this be done in the area my church serves?  Before we go blindly rushing in and imposing projects on people, we need to find out where the Holy Spirit is moving in our community, and join in.  

It was a very encouraging evening - a good chance to catch up with folks and to allow God to nudge us into action.  I have no idea how this will happen, or what shape it will take - watch this space...!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Doorway Deliberations

Change is coming rolling towards me, and pretty soon will totally envelope me.
It is exciting, but also quite challenging.
I keep looking at different aspects - am I ready to let go of all I know - FOR EVER???
That's the problem with change, you can't grasp hold of new opportunities, whilst holding on to what you already have.

Change is not being imposed on me, I have searched for it, been proactive.
Now it is here, around me, I am surprised how unsettling I find it.

During the last three months I feel that I have ricochetted between different options - is this the way to go, or should I be following this path?  I sense that folk around me are looking on in bemusement - what is she going to try next.   Sometimes you have to push doors to find out if they will open.  Sometimes, when you take a look at the view through an open door, you find yourself reaching out and closing it very quickly.  The view is lovely, but you suddenly understand that it is not where you must go. You don't forget the view, it remains within you, and helps to shape you and to understand a little more about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and responsibilities.

Now a door has opened, suddenly and unexpectedly.  Despite my conviction that this is the right way forward, I find myself analysing the situation and spotting minor imperfections.  I cannot ignore them, I need to identify them and consider the implications, before I am ready to put them to one side. I cannot plough on assuming that everything will be OK, that is not how I roll.  I need to identify and classify.  Certainty needs to be balanced with doubt, or we never question anything.  It doesn't mean I have changed my mind, it is just part of the journey.

This change will bring grieving for the present, but also for the future.  For when we step through one door, we are accepting that we will never know what lies behind all the other doors.  We have to walk through the doorway that feels right, and trust.  The only alternative is to keep opening doors, and trying to remember all the alternatives, and weighing one against the other..

So we step through the doorway into....

to be continued.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Fireside Musings

Watching firelight.
Cocooned within the blue womb of the room.
Heat radiates out from the flickering flames in the wood burner.
Outside the wind moans its January lament,
icy raindrops hurl themselves
against leaded window panes.
I look out beyond to the horizon,
where the faintest hint of daylight
gracefully remains,
contrasting with the strident orangey glow
of the streetlamp.
I recognise the reluctance within me
to draw the curtains
and exclude the world
with all its sad madness,
brutality and poverty.

Here I will stay
Marooned, yet secure,
Glad that I do not have to venture out again today,
yet feeling sad for those who do not have anywhere warm and safe,
whose belly will not be filled with lasagne,
but the gnawing pain of hunger.
for those whose hearts and wills are broken
and security stolen
by wealthy politicians and pension-holding paper pushers
under pressure from poverty exacerbating policies
While our infrastructure is privatised
sold off to the highest bidder or best back hander.
While we watch on powerless
and settle down to watch Pointless
for we have no answers
only questions.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Even Song


In the midst of the howling wind in the chimney, and the rain splattered windows,
there is silence.

Despite the rattle of the keys, and the scrape of buttons on metal computer casing, which sets my teeth on edge, and reminds me again that I need to order a skin,
there is silence.

Alongside the ticking of the clock and the distant hum of the dishwasher,
there is silence.

Interweaving with the sound of a cup lifted, coffee swallowed and the cup replaced,
there is silence.

Elsewhere in the house, there is the regular sound of breathing of undisturbed sleep,
yet my ears are not sufficient to hear it.

Neither can I hear the exchange of data over the internet, not the blood flowing around my body.
Yet I trust in these and many other things.
For this is the rhythm of this house - inside and out.
Some are under my control, others are beyond my jurisdiction.

I hear the unusual sound of a door closing in the adjacent property,
reminding that this day is almost over.
I glance at the clock.
It is still today,
but not for much longer.

It has been an interesting day, not spectacular, but interesting.
My mind sifts possibilities,
interweaving them with improbabilities,
contrasting with certainties.
For life is not static
and tomorrow will have another song to sing,
interspersed with silence.
But I will only be able to appreciate the melody of the day,
if I take time to sit and listen.

Friday, 9 January 2015

And Then They Were Few

Our band is small and select. We started ringing again in April, but because a risk assessment needed to be completed, we began by encouraging those who former members of the band to come along and brush up their skills.

Many months later and we are teaching new recruits.  This evening we roll up to practise and no-one is there...slowly they appear.  However tonight is an evening when we are missing a couple of the key members of the band. Bizarrely Giles is in London with his Sinclair C5, recording for The One Show.  Another was in hospital.  We felt a bit despondent.  What could we do?  We couldn't go elsewhere in case our latest learner rolled up. Our other learners weren't ready to try another tower.

We looked at what people could do, and set them simple targets.
  • Chris was going to learn Bob Minimus inside.
  • Phil was going to attempt Plain Hunt of 4 and also learn to get a bell down, and repeat getting a bell up, which he did for the first time last week.
  • Our learners would continue to learn back strokes and hand strokes and would ring back strokes in rounds with a helper.
  • One of our learners chimed the heaviest bell, after all the bells were down, and hooked up some of the bell ropes onto the spider - we would never have guessed that this was something that she had wanted to do!
Happy rope :)
Little steps and real progress made, which is always encouraging.  What could have been an evening where we didn't really bother with much, turned into a session where real progress was made, by tailoring what we did to the ringers available.

Bellringing is also a team effort, so we are all encouraged when anyone learns something new and we share in the sense of achievement.

Small steps.  Never despise the small steps.  A journey can only be made if we are prepared to start out, no matter how unpromising it all looks!  A good evening.  Thank you to those who were present and hurry back to those who weren't.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Do not bring gold its far too heavy!
Bring bitcoin, or Euro's 
or something more trendy.
American express, or Barclaycard,
High Street or John Lewis Store card,
I can click and collect
and avoid a long wait, Rose!
Amazon vouchers
unless you have principles!
Add some credit  to my paypal account.
I have been looking at Groupon  
I have found a hotel on 
the red sea, 
with scuba diving 
thrown in for free.

Do not bring incense worthy of a king,
on the air it will stay lingering
and set off my asthmatic coughing.
Bring me something from Avon,
That will cause some attraction
and be a distraction
during the hours of travelling 
to this foreign destination.
I hope they don't just encarcerate us,
use and abuse us
and return us
to certain

Do not bring oil for embalming, 
the very thought is hardly calming.
What message are you giving,
you should bring hope to the living.
We're heading off to Egypt
avoiding the slaughter.
Suddenly our neighbours are glad if they had a daughter!

Bring something of use!
Something to show you understand.
that this baby is precious
and will be your Redeemer
King, Advocate and Saviour.
He will change the world for ever
No wonder Herod thinks he is a danger!
But only if you accept him
and the gift he has
for you.
Don't leave him
as a stranger
in a manger.
To be brought out and dusted
once a year
as a tradition.
and spend the rest of the year
locked away
and forgotten.

Monday, 5 January 2015

And Your Point is...?

Last Day out.
We pondered on where to go.
"Pick a town we have never been to before.  
It could be like Market Harborough, 
...or it could be like Nuneaton..."
I examined the map
"How about Chepstow, but you may not want to drive that far...?"
"I don't mind driving, but aren't you working this evening? Let's save Chepstow for another day."
"Good point"  The map gets further examination. "How about Witney?"
"Witney Houston?"
"Nope. Witney, Oxon."
"I went there for my honeymoon, haven't been back since."
"Time for a revisit then!"
"Have you ever been there?"
"I don't know, I may have been there on a ringing outing, but I am not certain." 
So the motley crew departed for pastures new.

We passed through Burford - the town we had visited previously and not been greatly enamoured with - a bit of a one street wonder.  We will revisit in the spring and see if we have judged the place too harshly.  The church was full of character, but we didn't find much else of interest.

As we sailed up the hill in Buford we passed a nun and the KHT suddenly piped up
"What is black and white, black and white, black and white and black and white"
"I have absolutely no idea!"
"A nun rolling down a hillside!"
And there is more where that came from..
"What is black and white and goes haha?"
"A nun falling over a wall?"
"No, the nun that pushed the other nun down the hillside!"
I think my daughter has some strange ideas about nuns...

As we get close to Witney we admire the military aircraft taking off and coming into landing at an airfield near by.
A few minutes later we enter Witney and spot another is going to be that sort of day!
The Cotswolds are very beautiful.
It is a good job they aren't near the coast or they would be even more desirable
and houses would be even more expensive than they are!

The parking was free for up to 3 hours - great!
The toilets demanded 20p to spend a penny and we didn't appear to have any 20p's - doubly not so great!
We didn't want to pay 20p to pee anyway...
Isn't it odd how we would happily pay £'s for parking without a second thought,
yet quibble at paying a small price to use the facilities.
However, it was nearly lunchtime.
We can wait.

Witney has a good sized town centre
with a good mix of independent high street shops
and small arcades
occupied by the ubiquitous chain stores
who can afford the rent.
I don't need to name them.
They are the same in every town...

We spied the impressive looking parish church, situated at the end of a large green,
with more parking and an eagle eyed traffic warden.

If you are eagle eyes you will also notice that the traffic warden made it on to my photo!

As we walked towards the church
a plane passed behind the spire.
I can never look at a plane approaching a building
without thinking of 9/11,
even if they are quite a distance
from the actual building.

Disturbing how an act of terrorism stays with us, and alters our thinking for ever...

We entered the church to a pleasant aroma of furniture polish.  The building was surprisingly plain and empty inside.
I expected far more clutter and artefacts.
The pews have been replaced by modern chairs,
and a dismantled scaffolding tower
lurked in an alcove behind the choir stalls.
I wondered if this had once been the home of the organ pipes,
as there was no sign of the customary instrument
that I could recall, instead I noticed smaller modern instruments.

The church also has a loo...
and it is open.

We amble back through the centre of town,
taking our time,
as the day was somewhat milder the day before.
Most of the cafes were closed.
Frankie and Bennys looked manic,
so we ended up at the adjacent Cafe Rouge,
where we sat and chatted over lunch for a very pleasant hour - putting the world to rights.
The staff were lovely and very helpful.

We planned to pass by the Christian Bookshop,
somehow we wandered in through the open doorway
and next thing I know I have purchased 3 resource books - don't tell Barry!
We are supposed to be decluttering!

Witney does churches.
There was the parish church,
the Methodist church,
an independent church
a congregationalist church
all within close proximity to each other.

Redditch has a church converted for retail use,
the civic church, cut off from its catchment area
Redditch doesn't really do churches....

Two towns - one red brick the other a more tasteful honey-coloured hue.
Both contain churches with spires with an address of church green.
One town is posher and has David Cameron as MP,
the other working class, with bizarrely a Conservative MP. Proof of the demise of the Labour Party.

The motto of the town of Witney, famous for blankets is 'Dare to be wise'.
The motto of my town, famous for needles, is 'Redditch for God'.
I know which town is sharpest,
and which, when it rains, is a wet blanket!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Botanical Identity

Who is this Daff?
You're having a laff
Do you think that I came down in the last shower?
She is that Facebooky virtual flower
Online hour after hour.
Fills my feed with irritating posts,
about chocolate, bellringing and the Holy Ghost.
She seems never to be home,
and is rarely alone.
Travels to some random sounding places
checks in from pretty uncool spaces
Drinks lattes without thinking
Maybe Latte is really code for gin...
She should stay home and learn to cook
I could lend her an excellent book.
Dust, polish and declutter
without a whinge or a mutter.
Probably her house is really immaculate
she just doesn't went to admit it
With antimacassars
and aspidiastras
and divine hostess skills.

She pretends to be very ploddy
but is probably advising some government body.
Her linked-in profile is pretty sparse,
as if she couldn't be arsed....
to mention her distinguished academic and employment history,
it all appears to be a mystery!

She always has some rip snorting riposte,
that she comments on my status.
Sometimes she causes a hiatus
or surprises me with a prayer
to show that she really does care.

she likes to post cartoons,
and political lampoons,
and very dodgy tunes
But who really is that Daff?
and does she always get the last laff?

Saturday, 3 January 2015

After The Rain

A further day of decluttering and the bag mountain in the hall is ever growing...
"This was clear the other day!" grumbled my husband.
"Yes, but it is only passing through.." I remind him.

Outside the rain  was poured down.
Inside my surprise Christmas present -  a dehumidifier in case you were wondering - was working wonders on the laundry.
In the lounge the odd sock game is not a Facebook frivolity, but a real life conundrum.  We must have matched over 40 pairs. Those without hope of a partner, will be recycled. I am becoming a hardened declutterer!

Suddenly around 3pm, the skies cleared, and the sun appeared.  We ceased our endless decluttering and our procrastinating about decluttering, and headed off on our woodland walk with a sense of urgency, aware that the sun would soon be slinking out of sight.

Change is all around us. In the grounds of the golf course, one of the mighty oaks from the original woodland had been chopped down. The KHT went off cautiously to investigate.  She was noticeably reluctant to run anywhere after slipping on frost a few days ago, even though the temperatures were well above freezing she wasn't taking any chances!

Given the recent deluge we did not detour through the Cemetery and the often squelchy Holmwood.  Instead we stuck to main pathways through the adjacent Pitcheroak Wood and muddy verges thereof.

We reached the old fencing, above what was once an old quarry, was later a tip and now is housing.

My eyes was caught by the droplets and twigs silhouetted against the sky.

I noticed how changing the focal point, switched the emphasis from the branches,

To the barbed wire

and back again.

It struck me how much this sums up life, and how we often focus on one thing, to the exclusion of the rest.  How much do we focus on ourselves, and fail to notice the needs of those around us.

Individually, we are insignificant,
we can do so much more,
be so much more,
achieve so much more
when we work together,
and work for the common good.

The sun had disappeared, but a beautiful moon was rising, time to stop contemplating and head for home....

Across the bridge,
as vehicles hurtle by on the highway below.
We pass the Samaritans sign,
a reminder of the lives that have ended too soon, by those who could not see a solution
to their inner torment.
Erected after campaigning
by those they left behind.

Back over the highway, by a different bridge -  pausing to jump in puddles

No matter how busy you are,
always take time to stop and ponder
and jump,
or even dance
in puddles.

The day ends with a bag review.
"Where is this bag going?"
"Charity shop. Recycling. The tip....
No, sorry the charity shop will not want those dusty in trays, they are broken!"

"Keep on top of your filling system and declutter your house before it becomes another stress factor" my husband reads out from a book he has discovered*
A pity we didn't read this book a few years ago. It was hidden in the clutter!

*The Restful Heart by Liz Babbs

Friday, 2 January 2015

Clutter Mutter

Depressingly there is no visible difference.
The sifting and sorting is ongoing.
The pile of possessions classified as surplus to requirements regularly mounts up in the lounge and hall.
Car loads of possessions disappear,
but the place does not look any emptier.

As we move on from room to room,
we end up moving stuff back into the rooms we have already sorted.
How can so much have gone, 
yet the house still look so cluttered?

That which has gone,
was secreted away in cupboards,
like guilty secrets, 
never seeing the light of day.
Forgotten, like much of the past.
Things which we thought were lost, 
have been found.
Items we had forgotten had ever existed, have resurfaced.
Bags have departed to charity shops,
when all else fails, 

Books figure high on our problem list.
Like bad habits, they are so easy to acquire, yet so difficult to dispose of!
Who wants outdated theology or text books, 
specialist fiction, not mainstream, 
and hundreds of children books?
The charity shops in my town are situated in places where you cannot park, 
and our books are of limited appeal, 
after all, not even we want them any more!
I have heard of a charity in another town, 
hopefully they will take the books, and they can be passed on and enjoyed by new owners.

"Towels - give them to an animal sanctuary" someone suggests, "They always need towels!"
I ring. 
No-one answers. 
They are probably too busy looking after the animals to answer the phone, 
and so yet another good intention bites the dust.

My wardrobe needs another cull.  
It, and I, 
have endured the humiliation of the first round
"Did you ever wear THAT???"
"Why did you buy that?"
"You have NEVER worn that!!!"
"You are not likely to wear that again."
I know I will feel better if my clothing is successfully contained within drawers and doors, 
instead of sprawling chaotically in places where it really should not be.

My husband helpfully encourages me with a quote from the King of Style William Morris - 
If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it.  Have nothing in your houses that you do  not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
I look around me at the items that surround me and I am forced to admit that many breach that rule, and recognise with strange clarity,
how sentimentality
clouds my vision.

Decluttering produces in me a sense of panic, 
I stop, and put everything back.  
Just in case some ancient document or saxon treasure trove has infiltrated my home 
when I wasn't looking, 
and I have failed to notice...

When an area is clear and tidy, I feel an unfamiliar sense of freedom and liberation.

I begin again with the best of intentions, but I am easily distracted...
"Let us chuck all this wrapping paper. If we move in the next 12 months we will not want to move it!"
"But it may be useful?" declares my husband, who hates waste.
I sigh and capitulate, despising my weakness.
I am also irritated with myself of not buying a proper wrapping paper box when I saw them on sale last month...
2 rolls are rejected.
The rest return to the corner from whence they came, 
and I symbolically hurl the ones that are destined for recycling, over the banister 
- a hollow victory in a war that will continue to be fought for the foreseeable future.

We could just give in and stay in our home. 
We love it as much as when we moved in, 
but recognise that we need a more practical home, 
with an easier to maintain garden.  
I regret the lost opportunity of the one I thought was perfect and is no longer on sale.
Yet I have never crossed its threshold and in reality it may have been a great disappointment.
I find myself imagining how it could be the house we envision, if ever it returned to the market
I vow to continue to sift and sort, 
so that next time there is a serious contender we may be ready.

The New Year is a good time to recommit ourselves to the sorting.  
If change is coming we need to be ready for it, 
not barricaded behind our dreams and good intentions.  
Another bittersweet lesson learnt. 
Lord.  Be our guide in the year ahead. 

Anyone want a Loony Tunes Child sized sleeping bag?

Thursday, 1 January 2015


For the first time in many years we marked the change of year in the best way possible, by bellringing!  Ringing out the old year requires a mournful sound. So the first task of the evening was to put leather muffles on one side of the clapper.  Traditionally bells are muffled on Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve.  They may also be muffled if the bells are rung for a funeral.  Normally you have open (normal) on one stroke and muffled on the other.  Traditionally bells are only muffled on both sides for the death of the monarch. As the volunteers prepared to head up the tower to put the muffles in place, Phil decided that his normal sandalled footwear would not be appropriate for this task, and to our amazement put on a pair of gleaming white trainers.

Whilst the muffle tying was taking place on the top floor, the KHT as the non ringer present, hoovered the carpet.  Our tower is quite draughty, so we decided that it would be a good way of getting her warm, before we wrapped her up in a couple of blankets and spare coats.  Mind you the carpet was looking rather messy, so her ministrations were timely!

We rang up the back 5 followed by the treble, and vowed that Phil would be ringing his own bell up by next Christmas, by Easter would be even better! We rang call changes on all six, which sounded glorious. Then we rang Bob Minimus on the front 5 to give Phil a rest and so we could have a more mournful sound in a minor key, to mark the ending of the year. I gave the KHT my camera to record this, so the result is, interesting!

Call changes on the six, was followed by getting the bells down into the safe position, so that the muffles could be removed.  Chris then chimed 12 to mark midnight, amidst the sound of rockets from the nearby homes.

After midnight we rang the bells open, to celebrate the arrival of 2015!  We then got the bells down again an attempted to take a group photo for Catherine, and failed!  We then welcomed the new year with exciting things like Ginger Beer, Elderflower Cordial, pork pie, Chorizo, cake and other delicacies before admitting defeat and going home!

What will 2015 bring?  I have absolutely no idea!  If you told me 12 months ago that I would have been ringing in the New Year I would have been extremely sceptical. Having said that I am delighted to be ringing again, and to be welcoming new recruits to the band.  During the evening we noted that a measure of our progress over the next 12 months would be how many people will be here to ring in the New Year  at the beginning of 2016.  We are very encouraged by the progress we have made, but we know our striking is not yet as good as it could be, and it will only improve with effort and practise.

On a personal level I haven't made any New Year's resolutions as such, but I do have a number of personal targets which I have set myself.  I have no idea if some of them are even possible!  However, I feel that 2015 is going to be an interesting year and one of change.

As we move into 2015, my prayers are with anyone who found the last 12 months to be challenging or painful, and I really hope that things will start to improve for them. I am not particularly sure that years are good or bad.  Good and bad things happen to all of us, I see a year as a period of time, without personality or character.  My prayer is that we will all make the most of the opportunities that are offered to us, to know that are choices we make are healthy and for the benefit of others, as well as ourselves, and will bring glory to God.  Happy New Year, one and all!