Archive for November, 2010

Do you ever think that shopping centres are modern day cathedrals? The Vicar was a structural engineer in his previous life, so is always interested in buildings. If you look up inside a shopping centre (not usually outside, which is so often like a tin shed), you sometimes feel a glimpse of that awe that comes when you glance aloft in a cathedral, or even a parish church. Sadly, the majesty of the Bullring, or Meadowhall, is a reflection of what we value in our culture.

So I loved this YouTube clip that puts God’s word magnificently in a cathedral-like department store. Although scripture is masquerading as ‘culture’ here. Perhaps we should all be doing this with our congregations – go and mingle with a crowd and then sing a favourite hymn!  I know that some shopping centres have Christmas carols, but perhaps we could think outside the box. This was done on 30th October, so definitely too early for Christmas carols.

HT John Richardson

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I did a quiz last night on my political views. It had 50 questions, and I found some of them a little hard to get my head around. Anyway, I thought I’d share my results. And also ask for reading suggestions so I can get a bit more up to speed on issues about how much the state should intervene in our lives. Nothing too long or too hard, please. I find my brain a little fried these days. I found it particularly difficult to answer political questions in an abstract way, as the fallenness of our world and the politicians available to us colour my views. An interesting exercise, though. I also suspect some of the questions to be tailored to US politics.

Anyway, according to the quiz I am a centrist moderate social authoritarian. I don’t think that sounds too inaccurate…

Left: 0.73, Authoritarian: 3.13

You can find where you fit in the grid at Political Spectrum Quiz

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This week I’ve not got a baking recipe for you. Instead I thought I’d share a Vicarage supper recipe. For Sunday lunch this week I cooked a gammon joint (I really must blog that recipe sometime soon aswell). The Vicar had bought the gammon, and it was on offer. Being a Scotsman, therefore, he arrived with a joint that was larger than usual. We love gammon and very much enjoyed our lunch, but there were lots of leftovers.

Normally, I’ll use leftover gammon for sandwiches and a pasta bake with cheese sauce. But I didn’t feel like a pasta bake and there was far too much left for sandwiches. So I did what all social media junkies do: I tweeted my request for recipes for leftover gammon. And bingo! Spanish hotpot, rissoles and  many other great suggestions. One of the dishes I was reminded that I could make was a spaghetti carbonara. I often find recipes a bit of a pain when they are for four, as we almost never have an easy number eating. So I’ve organised this carbonara recipe per person:


Per adult, you will need (I used 5 times this recipe for 3 adults and 3 kids):

  • 1 egg yolk (look at it as an opportunity to make meringues)
  • 2tbspns double cream and 2 tbspns creme fraiche (or other proportion to make a total of 60ml if you’ve not got those in the right quantities)
  • 40g grated parmesan (or emmental, gruyere, mature cheddar)
  • 70g cubed gammon, bacon or pancetta
  • 1tbspn dry vermouth (or white wine, or leave it out altogether)
  • 10g/1tbspn butter
  • chopped parsley, black pepper to garnish

First put the spaghetti on to cook.

Then mix the cream and creme fraiche with the egg yolk and cheese. I mix it in a jug so it’s ready to pour out when the spaghetti is cooked.

Then fry the bacon/gammon until sizzling and crispy. Add the vermouth to the bacon and wait until the liquid has reduced and you have a good saucey consistency.

Then all you do is wait for the spaghetti to be cooked. Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the saucepan. Add the bacon with its sauce and the butter. Put it on a low heat and add the egg mixture. Gently stir until the sauce has warmed up. Serve with parsley and black pepper (or not, if your kids are fussy or you’ve run out).

Enjoy with a glass of wine. Or you might have to wait until after the trek down the M5 to piano lessons.

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So a few friends seem to have been carving Christian pumpkins for Halloween, so I thought I’d pop them up here in a gallery.

The young people of FourFourty, St Patrick’s Wallington, carved a wonderful selection of pumpkins. Here’s a group picture:

Cassie carved one with a rainbow as well as a cross in it:

Dan, an ordinand at Oak Hill, carved this very impressive pumpkin. His daughter loved it, particularly the way the cross at the back projected onto the wall.


Maggie is a head teacher, and she carved this one and was taking it into school assembly this week.

Sarah Phillips of  Hope House Press sent me her pic too.

Phil Ritchie claims that his Christian pumpkins represent Peter and Paul disputing at Antioch.

I only wish the disagreements in the Church of England could be resolved with such broad smiles.

Here’s ours again. Cross, Star of David and dove, to give a bit of a bible overview theme. We had a very useful kit bought in Waitrose (I was shopping with my mother, you understand, our nearest Waitrose is miles away, both physically and financially). The kit had mini saws, which meant that we could do quite fancy patterns.


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We had such a ball on Sunday evening. The kids dressed up, we lit our pumpkin and put it in the Vicar’s study window, put sweeties in a bag and waited around for the doorbell to ring. Which it did, almost continuously between 5.30pm and 6.30pm. Civilised, I thought.

As I’ve mentioned before, we imposed the Vicarage rules of making the Trick or Treaters tell a joke or story or sing a song before treats were given. I have to say, I was generally rather disappointed with the quality of the jokes. After the first group, who had a selection of not too awful jokes, pretty much everyone told the knock knock Dr Who one. Bonus points, though, to the teenage girls at the end of the session who told a proper(ish) ghost story.

After handing out sweeties and a Good Book Company tract, we took our Trick or Treaters to look at our pumpkin and told them about about it. I got the kids to do it a few times and sometimes I talked to them. We took the visitors through sin (the yucky middle of the pumpkin that needs to be got rid of) and the light which we can have in our hearts because of the cross. One set of Trick or Treaters had been in Junior Church with me in the morning, and had heard my (rather longer) explanation of the pumpkin in the service. They joined me in singing the new song I’d taught them: ‘What a Mighty Mighty Saviour You Are’.

In the window on the stairs on Saturday evening

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Just in case you thought I’d given up the ghost (check the spooky Halloween reference), I am actually here. We’re back from a few half term days away in London. We were mighty pleased to return to an unburgled Vicarage, I can tell you. And the cat and fish were still alive, thanks to Beauty, who negotiated our alarm to come in and feed the animals. Phew.

Our trip began at the weekend away of St James New Barnet, where old college friend the Baker is vicar. He and his wife Girlpreacha (and their five kids) are at a similar stage to us – in their second year of incumbancy. Their church is also quite similar to ours, so it was great when the Baker asked my Vicar to be the speaker. It was wonderful to be listening to talks by my husband and not worrying about the organisation! The kids had a brilliant time with two Oak Hill Youth and Children’s Ministry students, learning  about the lost son and his older brother from Luke 15, just like the adults.

I came away particularly challenged by God to spend more time in biblical meditation. The Vicar has been bending my ear about this for months, if not years. But you know how it is. He’s my husband, so when he gets all excited about  something I confess that it does occasionally wash over me, cos he’s talking about it whilst I’m worrying about taking the kids to swimming, or getting the washing done, or wondering when we’re going to get round to painting over those patches on the kitchen ceiling where the strip lights were taken down when we moved in.

So even though I’d heard about meditation, and even read a few of the Vicar’s excellent blog posts on the subject, it took a weekend away for his wisdom to sink in properly. He called meditation ‘the middle spiritual discipline, between bible reading and prayer’, where we let God’s word sink deeply into our hearts. As a natural activist, this is a discipline which does not come easily to me. I like to read the bible and I like to pray through the issues I see around us. But I’ve seen how the ‘hard work’ (as he described it) of meditation has borne fruit in my husband’s life.  For a while I’ve envied the Vicar’s love for God and the delight he finds in the Lord, which I can see are chiefly the result of his times of meditation. So now I am resolved to incorporate this discipline into my rather haphazard devotional life. He recommended just a short time each day (he mentioned six minutes!) meditating on the benefits that we have because of Jesus (listed in his blog post). This morning I meditated on Psalm 119v33-36, which was recommended in a book I am currently reading.

The thing is, it’s the long term benefit of biblical meditation that I need and that I want. So I’m also praying for pereverence perseverance…

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