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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

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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We came back from a week’s holiday in Scotland late yesterday afternoon. We couldn’t get the car on the drive to unload it as the drive is full of skip for debris from the attic renovations. So we parked near the back gate so we could take our stuff in through the back door. Tired and happy, we planned to unpack as fast as possible and get everyone into bed ready for school and the start of a busy term.

As soon as we’d emerged onto the pavement, just next to the churchyard, we realised things might take a while longer than we hoped. The half dozen or so kids playing there were very excited to see us and wanted to fill us in on all the things that had happened whilst we were away. The most prominent episode had been some naughty kids hopping into our garden over the wall and causing some damage to one of our (thankfully) cheap plastic tables. All the kids wanted to tell us the same thing at the same time and transmit their information in those squealy high pitched voices they save for important communications.

It took a while but we managed to convince them that we’d soon come to terms with our loss. After we’d unpacked. Our kind neighbour was also annoyed on our behalf about the vandalism and garden invasion and came to tell us the details. We were just relieved that the Vicar had packed the trampoline away before we left for our holiday, as we’d have been quite sad to lose that. When we go away in the summer we pack away the monkey swing too. Maybe that’s what attracted the cheeky table-destroying monkeys into the garden in the first place…

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It’s the holidays. We are all playing games as much as possible. Today the Joker has been incarnating as Dr Who. And I was asked for a picture…

No daleks allowed in the Vicarage

But we’re not worshipping him.

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What do you think about as you return from your holidays? As we drove away from the Channel Tunnel, heading back to the Vicarage, last week I was remembering (as always) a poem by Laurie Lee that I learnt by heart when I was at school:

Home From Abroad

Far-fetched with tales of other worlds and ways,
My skin well-oiled with wines of the Levant,
I set my face into a filial smile
To greet the pale, domestic kiss of Kent.

But shall I never learn? That gawky girl,
Recalled so primly in my foreign thoughts,
Becomes again the green-haired queen of love
Whose wanton form dilates as it delights.

Her rolling tidal landscape floods the eye
And drowns Chianti in a dusky stream;
he flower-flecked grasses swim with simple horses,
The hedges choke with roses fat as cream.

So do I breathe the hayblown airs of home,
And watch the sea-green elms drip birds and shadows,
And as the twilight nets the plunging sun
My heart’s keel slides to rest among the meadows.

Kent was certainly beautiful to look at. Our front drive not so much… (and more on this tomorrow too).

Rocky tells us this was originally left blocking the drive

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I’ve had another little spurt of book reviewing for our summer camp for Pathfinders (ages 11-14) as I’m trying to work out which books to order for the bookstall I’m going to be running. YP’s Guide to the Bible is a great little 32 page booklet, costing less than £3. It’s a reference guide for dipping into and includes flow charts, basic bible facts, bible help for young people, key people and topics, a time line, outlines of bible books and maps.

This guide would be great for every Christian (even grown-ups!) to have on their shelf and I’ll be pushing for every Pathfinder on our camp to take one home. It’s good value and an excellent little starter for anyone who wants to understand how the bible fits together, what it’s all about and why Christians read it. As the quote from Vaughan Roberts on p4 of the booklet reminds us ‘It is just one book written by one author with one main subject’. That main subject being Jesus Christ.

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I’ve loved Jan Pienkowski’s illustrations since I was a child and last week I found out that his illustrated version of the story of Easter is available to read online. The words are from Luke’s gospel and the King James Version of the bible.

His site has some other lovely online reads and all sorts of lovely kids’ stuff to do. Perfect for the Easter hols!

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What do Vicar’s Wives think about as Autumn half term looms and Christmas will be upon us any minute? Summer holidays of course. We need some thoughts of warmth to keep the chill from our bones as we resist switching the central heating on for one more day… and one more day… and one more day.

Actually, it’s cheap deals on summer holidays that are the key factor, so we have now booked our Eurotunnel tickets, using the marvellous bargain of quadrupling the value of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. And we have bought a new tent! This is most exciting, as the last one saw us through seven seasons and was finally consigned to the campsite bin as we left for home this summer. The three broken zips, combined with extreme dampness and the world’s largest birdpoo meant that we felt that we’d had our money’s worth and were ready to start again.

The special thing about our new tent, besides the increased floorspace that it offers us, is that it is made by a local company, Wynnster, who are part of the Khyam group. Last week we ordered the tent and were able to collect it in person from their warehouse just down the road from our local Ikea. So we were able to combine tent collection with a cheap bonus lunch out.

Our new summer lodgings

I rather wish the weather was better so we could try it out now, but we are not hardy campers, so we’re waiting until 2011 until the Vicar and I can have a really good argument about how to erect it.

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