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Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

Wimbledon starts today, with all its fervent discussion about Andy Murray, the weather and the price of strawberries. I had the pleasing experience a couple of weeks ago of going to a Wimbledon warm-up tennis tournament, the Aegon Classic, courtesy of the kind people at the Lawn Tennis Association. There was no Andy Murray (it was a women’s tournament) nor any sign of strawberries. But we did have weather, alas.

It was super easy to get to leafy Edgbaston where the tennis club is. As you drive from our parish the suburbs get gradually smarter until you get to Edgbaston, full of wide avenues lined with enormous Edwardian mansions, university halls of residence and independent schools. We were pleasingly able to park for free on one of the wide avenues by the club. A good start.

Once there we were able to take our seats with great views of the centre court without any queuing or stress. Then we enjoyed some great tennis – Daniela Hantuchova played Kristina Mladenovic. I spent some time transcribing Hantuchova’s grunts of effort. Her baseline noise is ‘Woo-ee’. And her service is accompanied by a ‘Uh-ee’. Transcribing them distracted me from the irritation of the noise. A little. Mladenovic won the first set and then, about half way into the second set, the rain arrived. As it was lunchtime we took shelter in one of the cafe tents. It was pretty squashed, but we found a spot to sit down amongst the damp tennis fans. It was Ladies Day, so a few spectators were decked out in impressive hats. We’d opted for smartish trousers and tunic combinations – a wise move I felt, as we sat on the floor to eat our sandwiches.

Sadly, it rained for the next couple of hours so we ended up returning home feeling rather undertennissed. But the tournament continued over the week and Hantuchova eventually triumphed. So thank you Lawn Tennis Association. I’d love tickets again next year. And now to get my Wimbledon head on…

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It’s been a bit of a busy start to the year so I’ve been rather off blogging. But yesterday I went for a walk with Dreamer and Freddie the Pooch. We headed to our local park and the frost was so beautiful that I took a couple of pics. Glorious, eh? Only slightly marred by the three young couples snogging under separate trees. At 3pm on a Tuesday. Not sure what that was about.

Tower blocks looking mysterious in the frost

Tower blocks looking mysterious in the frost

Freddie pooching about

Freddie pooching about

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Christmas treeThings are gearing up for Advent activity in the parish. Tonight is our Messy Christingle service – the first that’s been held since we’ve been here. Early in Advent seems like a good time for this service and gives us an opportunity to advertise other Christmas services to our Messy Church folk, some of whom don’t attend on Sundays. We’re excited about the service and the opportunity we have to tell people the Christmas story and spend time together. I made 1.5kg of pastry this morning which this afternoon will be turned into mince pies to share afterwards.

So we’ve been in church just now, moving chairs and getting the ancient decorations out. The tree lights work, thankfully, but there is rather a lot of tinsel debris around where we’ve unravelled the silver from the gold from the red and sparkly shreds have floated to the floor. The church is not looking as ethereal as one might hope for Christmas because at the same time as we were tinselling, the builders were in knocking great lumps of plaster off the walls. They tell us the plasterers are coming on Thursday so hopefully the walls will be reinstated for the school Christmas service next week and the Infants’ Nativity the following week.

So it looks like we might have a bit of a Messy Advent here. Thankfully our God didn’t expect tidiness when he came to earth all those years ago. In fact he came *because* of the mess. That means we can wait in the mess as we look forward to his arrival.

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Our big Advent activity in the Vicarage is always the Jesse Tree – a bare twig we cover in decorations that take us through the salvation story to Jesus. We don’t always manage to get all the way through the readings and the decorating, but we make an attempt each year and cover at least some of it.

If you’re thinking of following God’s story from creation to the birth of Christ with a Jesse Tree for the first time this Advent, an excellently easy way to get your kit together would be to use free printables. These colour-in ones over at Life Your Way look great – there are lots of others all over the internet if you don’t fancy the colouring in, or if you want different bible stories. You don’t even have to use a twig – an outline of a tree drawn on a poster would work just as well (and not take up as much space in the kitchen). In the next couple of days we’ll be digging out our battered Celebrations tin and hunting round for the decorations that went astray when we packed up last year.

Another great Advent activity, especially good for holiday clubs or the like, or if school breaks up way before Christmas, is making a Nativity set. You could use this gorgeous cut up and colour set by Dutch designer Marloes de Vries or buy a set of Nativity Shrinkles, which my kids had lots of fun with last year. My goddaughters have each been sent a set this year. Our schools break up on the Friday before Christmas, so we may not have time for colouring activities this year, but I shall keep the Marloes de Vries colouring to hand, just in case the kids need occupying. We may end up with a house full of nativity sets!

I’ve linked this post up with one of Tanya’s – she’s posting some Advent reflections over the next four weeks.

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The other day Ros commented that Advent hymns are wonderful. And we don’t sing them all that much. So to cheer a wet and dank Monday morning, a small collection. Starting with Matthew’s Begats, also from Andrew Peterson’s ‘Behold the Lamb’. We were meant to have this in church yesterday, as the Vicar concluded his sermon series in Ruth, but we had technical difficulties, so I’ve been wanting to sing along for 24 hours:

This may not, however, have been what Ros had in mind, so I went hunting for other rousing Advent hymns on YouTube. Not as easy as you’d think. They are mostly too slow, or without voices, or too flouncy and choral, or to the WRONG TUNE (Americans, I’m looking at you here).

I managed to locate a bouncy(ish) version of Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending:

And here’s a far-too-slow version of On Jordan’s Bank, the Baptist’s Cry from the Wells Cathedral Choir.

What I’d really like tho’, is a good video version of Christ is Surely Coming. But there’s only an organ version and one with a single verse. So here are the words. And the tune is Land of Hope and Glory, so I’m sure you’ll manage to hum it for yourself…

Christ is surely coming
Bringing His reward,
Alpha and Omega,
First and Last and Lord:
Root and stem of David,
Brilliant Morning Star:
Meet your Judge and Saviour,
Nations near and far!

See the holy city!
There they enter in,
All by Christ made holy,
Washed from ev’ry sin:
Thirsty ones, desiring
All he loves to give,
Come for living water,
Freely drink, and live!

Grace be with God’s people!
Praise His holy name!
Father, Son, and Spirit,
Evermore the same;
Hear the certain promise
From the eternal home:
“Surely I come quickly!
Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

And finally, one sung with a bit of gusto – When the Lord in Glory Comes:

 

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The Vicarage often seems to be heading for this state

Before the Vicar started at theological college, we spent time with some wise friends, Muso and Holy, who were already living on campus there. Theological college can be a funny old place where relationships are often very intense – with people studying, worshipping and living with one another, you get to see each other in very sharp focus. Our friends explained how college was a community of saints – and also a community of sinners.

Holy knew me pretty well and she warned me that I should be careful how I came across because (she said)

Some people might find you a bit intimidating…

Can’t think what gave her that idea. Apart from me being very loud, self confident and bossy, that is. And quite tall. So I arrived at college fully determined to restrain myself as much as possible. The Lord clearly thought I’d be unable to do this unaided, so actually what happened when we started was that I contracted a horrible virus and was laid up in bed for about a month. No chance of being too scary then. Or so I hoped.

Later, when we’d settled in, I thought I’d check up on how I’d done with the not-being-frightening thing, so I asked a new friend about it. Did she think I was intimidating when she first met me? I’d not done as well as I thought because she replied:

I did at first….  But then I saw your house…

I give you this story as an example of why housework may not be that important. And why it’s good to share our failings. And why sitting on the computer writing a blogpost is *far* more important than doing that washing up. Or any dusting. Ever. Just think of it as ministry.

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All our Trick or Treaters turned up whilst we were eating last night. But despite the bad timing (and a rather cold tea), we had lots of fun. We always ask kids to perform something in exchange for their sweeties, as they do in Scotland, but they were all pretty hopeless and in the end the Joker and the Engineer told jokes from their vast repertoire.

We told them about our Jesus pumpkin, which had a flame on one side and “Jesus” within a heart on the other, talking about how Christ brings light to our world and into our lives. And then we handed out sweeties and tracts. The damp weather put a few off, I suspect, but still a great opportunity to treat local kids and get to know the neighbours.

I was also tweeted a pic of a pumpkin carved by the supremely talented Liz and have spent all day wondering how angled the back-to-front Jesus carving had to be to get this projection. And also planning to try this next year…

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Clothing Bravery

This trailer for the new Pixar movie Brave caught my eye. I think you’ll guess why…

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On our return journey from Scotland, we were delighted to be able to make a pitstop in Leyland in Lancashire. Leyland is a smallish town with a lively church in the centre. And for one day only, timed perfectly for our return south, the maker of the soundtrack to our lives since children have joined us, Colin Buchanan, was playing a concert.

Colin has a new album out – God Rock – which we had already listened to for most of the journey. It was great to hear the new material – and some old favourites – live and presented with lots of laughs. He still has eight UK dates left to play so you might be able to catch him live yourself. Highly recommended for primary school aged kids. The Queen is in Year 6 and enjoyed herself immensely. On the clip below there are a few samples of songs from the new album. I really think Bear Grylls should hear the Survival Man song. We also have a lovely pic of the kids with Colin but we haven’t quite worked out how to transmit it from the Vicar’s new phone, so you may have to wait for that one.

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The brilliant Tim Hawkins has some advice for those who are unused to the more exuberant type of contemporary worship. I confess that I don’t get much further than ‘Carrying the TV’ myself. I am Anglican, after all…

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