Monday, 20 May 2013

Busy weekend in the parishes

The early May Bank Holiday weekend was filled with action in both Upton-upon-Severn and Hanley Swan, and both benefited from the lovely weather - so much better than last year! The Upton Folk Festival, as always, included the Festival Service at St Peter and St Paul's Church which is always a joyous occasion led by various participants in the festival, as well as our own organist and choir. We were led in and out of church by the Milltown Cloggies, pictured here dancing and singing outside the West Door.

The service was followed by the traditional procession through the town.

Many generous residents of Hanley Swan opened their gardens in aid of the Hanley Churches for the three days of the long weekend, and a huge number of visitors really enjoyed looking round. They also ate so many cream teas, there had to be a supermarket dash for more scones on Bank Holiday Monday morning! As well as all the gardens, a new piece of public art was opened, providing some very attractive seating by the pond. The project involved pupils from both Hanley Swan Church of England Primary School and Hanley Castle High School, and resulted in some stepping stones created by pupils from the Primary School, and seats carved from ideas offered by young people from the High School.

Keeping a New Year Resolution - in May!

Having not posted anything in the whole of 2012, my New Year Resolution for 2013 was to start blogging again - also to spend more time with my lovely online friends on Twitter and Facebook. So far, I have managed to get on the social networks a few of times (although by no means enough!), but the intended blog posts have never made it from my brain to cyberspace.

My main excuse is that we moved house just before Christmas - not the ideal time for a Vicar - and I've been trying to get sorted out ever since. Having finally managed to get more or less all the boxes unpacked (between celebrating Easter and few other church activities!!) I'm taking a bit of a break, so am finally making good on my resolution.

The move was necessitated by the fact that Worcester Diocese had finally managed to buy a house as the new Rectory. We had been living in "temporary" accommodation for 18 months, 10 miles away from the parishes in which I work; this had a significant influence on my virtual absence from the virtual world, as I was spending so much time travelling I had little time for anything else. I've always thought that the Church of England was a by-word for compromise, but apparently this does not apply to their view of the ideal clergy house. Finding the right four-bedroomed house with study proved to be a far more difficult task for them than anyone would have thought possible!

Thea, our black Labrador, is now 3 years old in body, but her brain has yet to catch up - she is still just a giant puppy. Unfortunately, despite considerable quantities of additional fencing, she has found her way out of the new garden several times; on one occasion she was caught snacking from our neighbour's bird table, but the most worrying was when she managed to get onto the main road although very fortunately had the sense to stay on the pavement.

I'll be posting photos of some things that happened a couple of weeks ago in Upton and Hanley - and hopefully there will be more to follow over the summer. To paraphrase a well-known broadcaster from some years ago "If you have been, thank you for reading".

Monday, 24 October 2011

Whatever happened to 2011?

It hardly seems possible that it is a year today since I last posted anything. During that time I have also been only a rare and occasional visitor to Facebook and Twitter - if I have any online friends left, they probably think I'm dead! My only excuse is that a lot has happened since I dressed up as a schoolgirl for Children in Need 2010!

December is, of course, always a busy time for a Vicar, but things usually calm down a bit in the New Year. This year was different! Roger was very unwell over Christmas, and diagnosed by two out of hours and emergency doctors with asthma. After the holiday his regular GP decided that he needed an ECG; he was ordered to hospital immediately and fitted with a pacemaker a few days later. Complications meant that he spent nearly three months unable to drive, so I had to fit the role of chauffeur-cum-nurse into my vicaring. It is still scary to think what could have happened if if his GP had been no more astute than her colleagues.

Because the hospital was desperately short of beds, he was allowed home over the weekend while he was waiting for the operation - but only on the strict condition that he did absolutely nothing. It was this weekend that I received an email from the Rector in the neighbouring parish to say that he was moving back to the north of England. This had particular significance, because it had been agreed a couple of years ago that our two groups of parishes would merge when one became vacant. So, while I should have been keeping Roger stress-free and concentrating on delivering him back to hospital in one piece, I had to break the news that we would shortly be looking after nine churches instead of three!

By the time my nursing and chauffeuring duties came to an end, my colleague was saying his fond farewells to the churches of Upton-upon-Severn, The Hook, Ripple, Earls Croome, Hill Croome and Strensham, and the parish secretary and I were planning the date to move the office stuff. The office move was necessary because the diocese wanted to sell the large, old, cold Rectory and replace it with something more suited to the 21st century. Moving the office, however, wasn't the only move I had to undertake.

To help with the workload, I gained an extra part-time colleague, and it was agreed that the most practical arrangement, for all sorts of reasons, was that he should move into Hanley Swan Vicarage, where we had lived for the past 10 years. Since it takes time to sell one house and buy another, we have moved into a house that the diocese owns a few miles outside the parishes that I'm caring for. It's a lovely house in a very nice village, but long-term I do need to live on the patch, so this is only a temporary place to lay our heads.

The office move was also only temporary. A small space had been created in the Church Rooms, but it was little more than a storage area and we still had to find some suitable premises. We now have a shop in Upton High Street, which sells Christian books, gifts and fair-trade items, as well as housing the office. It gives us a much more visible presence and makes it easy for everyone to find out what's going on in the churches. There is a Baptist and a Roman Catholic church in Upton as well, and we are working with them to make it a genuinely ecumenical venture. Now, if we could just get the phone sorted out............

I'm fortunate in having a fantastic team of lay and clergy colleagues, since no-one could manage five parishes and nine churches single-handed, but as you can see I haven't exactly been idle, wearing hats ranging from nurse to shopkeeper. Perhaps my schoolgirl outfit last year was the preparation!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Role reversal at school

To raise money for the BBC's Children in Need appeal, the children of St Gabriel's with St Mary's Church of England School challenged me to come to school dressed as a schoolgirl, and they all came dressed as vicars.
Guess who!!!

The RE co-ordinator looking the part!
Two holy dinner ladies.
The staff were a great gospel choir!

The head in the guise of an altar boy??

Rev Pudsey, our first ordained bear and..
our first woman bishop??
Two reverend gentlemen

Lots of fun and....
lots of cakes!
(I made 250 and they were all gone by the end of the day!)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Country life

This picture of me at the Diocesan Rogation Service a few weeks ago appeared on the Worcester Diocesan website recently. It's not exactly flattering, but was so great for my street-cred (field-cred??) as a rural vicar that I couldn't resist asking for a copy to put on the blog.

My life is still being ruled by Thea. She is getting bigger every day and is now very strong! We went to the first of series of training classes on Tuesday. She wasn't any worse behaved than most of the puppies there, but she was BIGGER than most of them, which made it very noticeable!

We're enjoying the beautiful weather here in rural Worcestershire and the farmers are all busy getting their hay cut - which means you can't drive very far without meeting a tractor and trailer. On narrow country lanes this requires a whole different set of skills to driving on the motorway!

Another traffic hazard is that the Highways people are re-surfacing the road through the village. I think that, at the moment, most of the villagers would have been quite happy if the scheme had been a victim of expenditure cuts!! What I can't work out is why it takes two people to operate the swtich on the traffic lights - especially since there is also a convoy vehicle sheperding us through them. Every time I go through, there is one man talking on a walkie-talkie, presumably to the convoy driver, and another one standing watching him!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The latest member of the family!

Some people have been asking why I've been spending less time online lately. This is the reason - she thinks that working at the computer is a waste of good playing time!

Her name is Thea (short for Theodora Episcopa, who may have been a woman bishop in the early Roman church). She is now twelve weeks old and very lively.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Easter Flowers

We have very talented people who arrange flowers in all our churches, and this Easter those in Hanley did us especially proud with a wonderful display at St Gabriel's Church. The lilies are paid for by people who generously give donations in memory of loved ones - or just to ensure that we have a lovely display.